'Making Waves': A play on teaching, written by teachers
The Salt Lake Tribune
By Roxana Orellana
This one is for all the teachers out there.
"Making Waves," written by teachers about teaching, is described by its creators as the "Vagina Monologues" meets "The Colbert Report" with the tone and call to action of "The Laramie Project."
Westminster education professor Heidi Van Ert sat down 5 1/2 years ago with an idea for a play on teaching. She sent out an e-mail to 30 "edgycators" -- teachers she considered to be on the forefront of the profession -- asking who might want to join her in the venture.
Teachers across Utah, and a few from outside, responded with a collection of stories.
She and two other educator-playwrights, Amanda Waterhouse and Katharine Dalton, then turned the stories into a play.
"It was time to write a play to show what teaching is all about instead of the portrayal we see on TV and things like that, which have nothing to do with actual education," Van Ert said.
Van Ert said they wanted to let teachers know they are valued and encouraged to stay in the profession. They also wanted to reach parents and legislators, people who may not have children in the school system but need to know what is going on in education.
But more important, Van Erk said the group wanted to get middle-school-age and older students to consider the radical notion of becoming teachers themselves.
"We called it 'Making Waves' because we think that good teachers actually do make waves in individuals' lives and society for that matter," Van Ert said.
Statistics show 50 percent of teachers quit within the first three to five years of teaching, and with more teachers retiring, the country is facing a potentially serious teacher shortage.
The play includes three female and two male actors, some of whom are teachers, performing monologues and playing multiple characters as they bring to life real stories written by educators at all grade levels.
"It's great for us to bring these important issues of teachers not being able to get enough funding or dealing with overcrowded classrooms, having to deal with not being paid enough and just tell their stories in a non-whiny way because is not a whiny show," said Megan Crivello, director and educator.
Last year, "Making Waves" was chosen for a reading at Wasatch Theatre Company's Page to Stage Festival. This year, it graduated to a full-fledged production. One last performance is Sept. 26 at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center. But this is just the beginning for a show the playwrights hope will continue to grow.
They plan to build a Web site where teachers can submit stories, perhaps allowing theater companies to stage different versions of the play.
"The time is right to get more people interested in this field," said Van Ert. "Attracting creative, thoughtful people to education is a challenge. ... We wanted to break the mold with this play and hope that it catches on."
The final performance of the Wasatch Theatre Company's Page to Stage Festival is a performance of "Making Waves" on Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, 138 W. 300 South, Salt Lake City. Tickets are $12 and can be purchased at www.arttix.org.