For KO teachers, learning never stops. The summer months are a perfect opportunity for teachers to avail themselves of professional development experiences that they, in turn, implement at our school.
“KO is always raising the bar for teachers,” Director of Theater Kyle Reynolds said. “The school recognizes the importance of professional development. I had the incredible fortune to attend the Broadway Teachers Workshop in New York City for four days.”
Over the course of Reynold's visit, he worked with Broadway professionals from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., learning the latest innovations in theater production Some of it was very technical - the newest lighting and the newest sound system, the use of various mics, and projecting through light. After the daily workshops, the teachers would attend the theater performances that those teacher-actors would perform in that evening. Reynolds took in shows and inspiration from Beetlejuice, Michael Jackson: The Musical, Jukebox: The Musical, Funny Girl, and Strange Loop, the Tony-award winner for Best Musical which Reynolds described as “incredible.” In one full-circle moment for Reynolds, while attending a private performance of Alex Brightman, the opening act was a former student of Reynolds who invited him onto the stage.
Reynolds shared that much of the discussion in the workshops was very philosophical and tackled the thorny issue of performing “controversial” theater in a cultural climate that has heightened sensitivities. “Teachers are struggling to make theater authentic and tell real stories that are based on real events with a certain level of sensitivity and education,” Reynolds said. Interestingly, Strange Loop broke all the rules in terms of unapologetically presenting provocative and compelling material according to Reynolds. Many of the teachers at the workshop viewed KO as a role model in educating the school community about theater material that is deemed “edgy”. Teachers peppered Reynolds with questions about the meetings with stakeholders, and what types of educational workshops were available for the students. He said that many educators are grappling with the challenge of making make people feel uncomfortable yet safely wrest with the difficult subject matter. “This is not unique to high school theater but also college theater, regional, and community theater, and Broadway itself. Every show is going to have a controversy. Every show is going to tackle something,” he said.
KO theater will continue to be thoughtful and strategic in presenting shows that address compelling material and will include family, friends, and community in that conversation. “We want to prepare the audience ahead of time so they see it coming and they know why it’s coming. As long as we do that, we can make some real authentic theater that’s both entertaining and educational.