Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Couple of the Many Faces of Mr. R

One of the mainstay lessons of my CTY Writing & Imagination class is the adventure of the glowing green kids. The class is advised that, the previous night, six other students were discovered in their dorms glowing bright green. By interviewing a variety of people, they are usually able to figure out what has happened.

The cast of characters includes Ulysses S. Feedum, the head of food services at Washington College, and his sidekick, Ima Server, portrayed by yours truly and Lauren (my former teaching assistant and co-instructor, now the instructor of the other section of the class).

Ima tells Feedum something of great importance.

Feedum is an irascible character with a Yosemite Sam-type voice who warns people, "Don't ask what's in the scrapple, ask who's in the scrapple!" Ima, who "gradjiated the seventh grade" and has an extensive "vocaberry," is responsible for making the desserts and is a big fan of Jell-O.

Also available to be interviewed is Norman Timperry, a spokesperson from CTY Central played by Lauren's TA Matt, who is a master of answering questions by not answering them. More often than not, he will respond with, "That's an excellent question. Next!"

Dr. Willa B. Better, the head of the emergency room at Chestertown Hospital, has been played first by Lauren and more recently by Amy and Dom, two of my past-year TAs, as an overworked narcoleptic who nods off even while answering questions. Dr. Better got a different spin from my 2012 TA Kim, who turned her into a human roller-coaster whose energy skyrocketed with each jolt of "5-Hour Energy" she swigged and then crashed just as quickly as it wore off.

Finally, there is Dr. Wolf W. Wolfgang, the lab-coated, bespectacled marine biologist and head of science at Washington College since 1953.  Wolfie is an expert on the Marianas Trench, "vich, as you know, iss the deepest part of the Specific Ocean." He gets called to the hospital to examine the green kids and is upset because he cannot cut one of them open for further examination. "I am a man of science!" he proclaims in defense of his plan. "I don't understand why the parents of these students don't see that!"

Dr. Wolfgang, sans glasses and lab coat, on some kind of marine biologist adventure at nearby Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge.
The underlying purpose of this is to teach the students about voice and their assignment is to write up what happened using the persona of one of the characters. They enjoy doing it, particularly when it comes to sharing their work, because they get to imitate those voices.

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