Middle and Upper School Performing Arts Teacher Tom Allard has been mentoring students in Laura Holmgren’s English II class on dramatic storytelling. Earlier in the year, Tom guest-lectured in the class about storytelling and more recently has returned to focus on the performance of dramatic monologues.
As part of the class's study of Homer’s The Odyssey, students wrote monologues from the point of view of a character from the epic poem. Tom has also supported the creative retelling process by workshopping the performances or offering feedback in a group setting. He coached the students on content, writing style, and performance skills for the two-and-a-half to three-minute assignment. The assignment is modeled after the autobiography Born a Crime by Trevor Noah which began in print and became a live performance. They started with a personal narrative modeled after the storytelling of the book which was then adapted for their own performances.
“The students love it when we say Mr. Allard is coming to class today,” said Laura. “He's so engaging when he's telling his own story and is open to their feedback in terms of his own presentation. No matter how long you've been doing this, you can always take notes from somebody about how to get better. I think they really appreciated the opportunity, not just to hear feedback—which we often do—but to get feedback from him on their particular stories in a way that you don't often get to do. He was like their own personal performance coach.”
The result was spectacular performances from the students in Laura’s class during Block Days.