Friday, August 22, 2008

Last Chance to Meet Mr. Fry - Shades of the Sun - at The Fringe Festival

Anyone who saw Nilaja Sun's marvelous play "No child," - see our report on the trip we made with a whole gang from my former school back in Nov. '06, must race over to the Milagro theater (107 Suffolk St. between Delancey and Rivington St.) for tonight's (9:45PM) final performance of "They Call Me Mister Fry." ((Tickets can only be bought at the door starting at 9:30 and there will be enough seating.)

Unlike Sun who is an actress who spent time working with kids and teachers in various schools, Jack Freiberger has taught in various LA schools since 2001. His one man play takes you through the entire process of the pain and joy of teaching, from your first job interview to the total involvement in the lives of your kids that can come to dominate your personal life to the extent that your fiance has had enough.

See the real impact of No Child Left Behind on teachers and students as Mr. Fry is told to put away his balloon sabre in the interests of test prep. Can he be accused of violating a school's "no weapon" policy when you are pointing a balloon at someone? The ideal world under NCLB is for every child in the nation to be doing exactly the same thing at the same time.

Jack manages to find humor in many of the teaching situations, with critical letters from supervisors posted on the screen, along with letters from students. NYC teachers facing Leadership Academy principals will howl.

Jack vividly describes the experience of moving from white bread schools that work to the devastation of South Central LA. "Gee, this school must be safe. Look at all the police around."
Did letting a kid who should have been punished go to a game where his closest relative ends up stabbed to death mean Mr. Fry is a murderer?

Jack called yesterday to thank us for coming to the show (I went with a middle school Spanish teacher) and I urged him to turn it into a film. He will be putting up some video clips on his web site very soon. I asked him to send back reports on what is going on in the LA schools and the LA teachers union when he gets back there. Jack will be around town for a few more weeks and would love to meet with some teachers. I'll post a notice for those interested if that takes place.

Read Jim Callaghan's Mr. Fry Teaches a Lesson in the Back-to-School section of the August 7, 2008 edition of the New York Teacher. (I can't find it on the UFT web site.)

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