Arts News, November 13

Susan Dempsey, theater teacher
November 13th, 2020

Theater Arts: Learning To Walk In Someone Else's Shoes

To kick off the seventh and eighth grade theater arts intensives, we explored, experienced, and applied what it means to “Walk a Mile in My Shoes.” We first designed a shoe representing our personality, interests, birthplace, and the origin of our names. In sharing these designs, we noted things we had in common and wondered about things we did not, “She likes spring just like me." "I wonder why she likes owls?” This was followed by viewing and responding to sections of the TEDx talk “Walk a Mile in My Shoes” by the actor, Okieriete Onaodowan (of Hamilton fame) as he discussed acting, empathy, and what it takes to walk in someone else’s shoes.

Students were then presented with four photos of people and wrote descriptions of what they thought their shoes would be. They explored their assumptions and how it is necessary to go beyond them in order to understand and know a person. As actors, we delved into a character’s “I want” or objective and wrote monologues from a shoe’s point of view. Everyone had a chance to perform a dramatic reading of a section of their monologue, then got to read their classmates’ kudos in the Zoom Chat: “I liked how it conveyed the shoes want.” “I really felt bad for the grey shoe.” “I could really see the emotion that the shoe was feeling.” “It makes me want to know more.” Classwork was interspersed with theater games and learning basic dance moves to keep everyone on their toes!

Examples of the students' monologues:

Now from a first-person perspective, I can tell you that being a rich person shoe is NOT as appealing as it may seem. Sure they might have a softer touch and be lighter on you because they are fancier and all. But none of that is important because if you're rich, the odds of your owner picking YOU out of all of their pairs owned?! Next to none. They are rich right, so they gotta have hundreds of pairs of shoes to use. So just be warned, they ain't picking you out anytime soon. All I want as a shoe is to be used more than three times a year. – Henry Monroe

What’s this? What’s that? There’s a new child in the store ... I hope they buy me ... They’re coming closer ... They’re looking … (slumps) Oh, they took somebody else. Some kind of new-fangled, fancy shoe. Nobody wants me, an old worn-out pair. My laces are frayed, the soles are worn out, and no person has touched me in years. Here I sit, alone on this shelf. I’m covered in a layer of dust, and I haven’t been polished in years. My only wish is to be worn again, but I am beginning to think that it’s a lost cause. – Aviva Pearlmutter Bearson

Students Showing Their Artwork