Learning through a different lens

The junior class saw “Rise Up” performed at the Coterie Sept. 20. Juniors in the AP Literature class also got to see “Hot Cat on a Tin Roof” at the Rep.


Catera Combs as EM, from left, Jay Love as Ty, Jordan Luty as CJ, and Khrystal L. Coppage as Dayz in The Coterie’s production of “Rise Up: The Struggle of the Freedom Riders.” The play is written by Lisa Evans and directed by Jeff Church, and runs from Sept. 17 through Oct. 20. photo by Erin Stricker and courtesy of The Coterie Theatre

by Ella Norton , Editor-in-chief

Junior Morgan Saxe, along with the rest of the juniors in AP Literature, piled into the school vans, Sept. 24. They drove a mile to the Kansas City Repertory Theater, or the Rep, to see the performance of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” They brought they sack lunches to eat during intermission and prepared to see the play. 

“It was really long, it was like three hours long, but it was really in-depth of the play that we read,” Saxe said. 

The play, written by Tennesse Williams in 1955, focuses on a family living on a plantation in Mississippi. Earlier in the year, English teacher Sarah Taber saw that the Rep was going to do a performance of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and decided to teach the play in class after being curious on how the Rep would keep a classic relevant. 

“I definitely was interested to see how a play about values that are seemingly outdated can still be relevant in 2019,” Taber said. “And it was by the way.” 

Taber thinks that seeing the play performed helped students develop new interpretations of the play, such as seeing the main character Brick in a more tender way. 

For Saxe, seeing the play proved helpful in class. 

“It was really helpful to see the play and to get a better understanding of what was happening,” Saxe said. “It was easier because we had an in class essay the next couple of days, it was easier to recall and say ‘oh that was a good example of this.’” 

The AP Literature also got to see “Rise Up” with the rest of the junior class at The Coterie Theatre on Sept. 20. The play focuses on freedom rides in the South during the 1960s.

American history teacher Craig Whitney believes this is the fourth or fifth year they’ve taken the junior class to see a play.  The Coterie offerers stories about civil rights in the fall, from stories about Martin Luther King Jr. to the Little Rock Nine. 

“That’s actually a small glitch in it because we typically teach history chronologically so this civil rights stuff doesn’t come up until spring,” Whitney said. “But I think it’s nice to see history presented in a different way. It puts a new look to it.”

The play was performed  by four actors with each of them playing multiple roles, regardless of race.  

“It was also interesting because on a few occasions, the black performers played a white person and the [white] performer played a black person during the course of it,” Whitney said. 

Whitney said that seeing “Rise Up” made him consider doing something similar in his class. He believes that it would allow students to learn the same content in another way. 

“The student does the work, which I think is great, and you’re engaged with the information and the research in a little bit different way which is kind of nice,” Whitney said. 

Last year, Whitney assigned students in his history class to create a documentary over a history topic as he likes trying different techniques with teaching. 

“It’s easy to get locked into PowerPoints and standardized tests and that kind of thing and there’s a lot of different ways to do things and still have it get across the same information,” Whitney said. 

Taber believes that seeing performances is a way to bring project based learning into her classes.  

“We are sending teachers to High Tech High and starting these R&D courses and we are trying to bring that to the English department and show students that the written arts have a life in the community and they have a lot of relevance for us,” Taber said. 

While Saxe preferred ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,’ she said overall seeing the plays was a fun experience.  

“They were good excuses to miss school but still have something educational,” Saxe said. 

The AP Literature students will also see a one man performance of Frankenstein in February.