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June 11th, 2000

Monkey See, Monkey Do (or How I Became a Rapping Owl)

This morning I was going through an old drawer of videos and happened upon a tape from my high school days when I was taking a creative drama class. This was a regular class, aimed at those with zero theatrical experience and was really just an easy alternative to regular English class. In any event, the class wrote three original plays and then we “took it on the road” to perform at schools for mentally handicapped children.

I was slated to play an owl in the forest-based play Monkey See, Monkey Do (I believe the clever title was my idea). This owl always spoke in rhymes and carried — get this — a “wisdom stick.” Ahem. It was a pretty decent role — not all that difficult and I got to be somewhat creative by writing my own rhymes. Unfortunately, the creative drama teacher at the time (Ms. Buzz) found out that I was an aspiring MC and forced me to change my role to a rapping owl narrator. I wanted an A, so I sold out and became the rapping owl.

The play was somewhat clever — it was about a monkey who wasn’t happy with herself, so she tried to be like other animals in the forest. She took a rabbit’s ears and a leopard’s spots in an attempt to change her image. Of course, the moral of the story was that she should be happy with who she was and what made her different, but she didn’t find this out until she tried to steal the owl’s “wisdom stick.” I caught her trying to steal it (hard for me not to since I was holding the wisdom stick at the time) and rhymed to her, as a wise owl should, about the virtues of individuality. Interestingly, though, during one of the videotaped performances, I flubbed one of my lines, reciting the second line in a rhymed pair first, thereby forcing me to make up another line on the spot. The teacher wasn’t pleased I had forgotten my lines, but apparently approved of how I covered up the mistake. I’m glad — I didn’t want to feel the Wrath of Buzz ™.

Even though I didn’t exactly enjoy my high school years, I remembered that this class brought together a number of different cliques and it worked out really well. As much as I hated group projects, I think it’s being forced to work together with people you generally don’t like or respect that helps to garner some sort of understanding and appreciation of diversity.

The owl would be proud of me for realizing this (even if it did take me six years). -ram

Posted in Childhood Memories

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