Brown Backstage at Public Performance

Students Learn Confidence, Humor Takes Work


Mrs. Carolyn Brown, English instructor at Notre Dame Academy, has returned to teaching the Public Performance class after about a five year break.

When Mrs. Brown came to Notre Dame 18 years ago, she was given four sophomore English classes and a Creative Dramatics class as her assignment. She knew nothing about theater or improvisation prior to teaching.

“I talked to drama teachers in my past schools, read books, and panicked a lot,” Brown said.

Public Performance is taught and held in the auditorium, where students work on units such as building community, basics of acting/stage work, performing a scene and a speech.

The class usually performs every week during students’ lunch periods and the crowd seems to have grown larger this year as opposed to previous years.

“My mom made me take this class since I was very quiet. I was nervous at first, but I like it. I have no regrets,” said Sam Hennigan, a junior and one of only three girls in the class.

Students in the class said that Public Performance has a fun, easygoing atmosphere and everyone is friendly to each other.

Estere Fomina, a junior and an exchange student from Latvia, is another one of the three girls in the class. “I’m happy I did this. I chose the class for fun. Everyone is really friendly. It is exciting and it improves my language skills.”

Many of the class activities involve teamwork and a willingness to be outgoing. A fun thing they do to start off the year is to call each other by their middle names, Brown said.

“They don’t say no,” Brown said about her students when given a new idea. “It is a good turnout when they’re willing. The class is a really good mix of people.”

As the first IB-trained English teacher, Brown had to stop teaching Public Performance after teaching it for about thirteen years because she had to teach IB English.

Dr. Ravizza asked Brown to teach it again this year as an extra class in her schedule.

“I’m loving it. It is a great group of kids in there this semester,” Brown said.

Going into the class as a shy person or outgoing class-clown, the objective of the class is to gain confidence that grows from acceptance, Brown said.

“It is not easy being funny up on stage because you are making something out of nothing. I feel that if you are not nervous, you don’t do as well,” senior Stuart Kwaterski said.

“I would say being nervous and having the adrenaline rush makes you funnier,” senior Joe Curtin agreed.

As intimidating as it looks being in front of the student body during every performance, many of the students had to say that they recommend the class to everyone, regardless of whether a student is outgoing or not.

“I watched the performances my freshman year and really liked it. I decided I wanted to take the class and go out with a bang for my senior year,” Kwaterski said.

Curtain said this class brings out a different side of people. “You don’t realize how funny they are,” Curtin said.

“You can be the smartest person out there, but if you can’t communicate or talk to people and have good people skills, you won’t get anywhere. Step out there and don’t be afraid to try new things,” Curtain said.