Let’s celebrate Michele McGovern Boucher or “Mrs. McB”, the Theatre Director at East River High School for 9 years!
What drew you to education and specifically the important role of theatre teacher?
I completely fell into this role and was incredibly fortunate to discover that it was a wonderful fit for me. I began my career in Theatre as a performer, stage manager and of course a student. When the opportunity to lead this program presented itself, I took it as a challenge I was eager to conquer. I have been deeply impacted by my students over the last, almost ten years. I truly find joy in watching them grow as humans in the world and in the world of theatre. To see their confidence flourish, to see them make connections with other people in the world, and to see them enter adulthood as compassionate human beings makes what I do matter so much.
What is your favorite aspect of your job?
My absolute favorite aspect of my job are the relationships and mentorship I am able to cultivate with my students. I love to challenge and inspire them to see aspects of themselves that they haven’t realized yet. I genuinely love talking to my students and spending time with them. I love hearing their stories and helping them become the young adults they were meant to be. I of course LOVE creating theatre with them. Bringing a show to life and having people who trust my vision is an absolute gift. I learn so much from them on a daily basis. They have taught me how to be a better teacher, parent, and responsible adult in this world.
Which projects or classroom assignments are you most excited about and why?
I get most excited when I see my students create their own original works. We recently did an adaptation project where the students were able to submit a proposal of their original adaptations for Othello. The class watched twenty-six proposals which included design, time period, and conceptual directions for the show. They then voted on their top seven favorite ones. We then cast and mounted scenes from Othello to create the worlds they had designed. We incorporated lighting, sound, costuming, and used the stage. It was wonderful to see them go through a cue to cue process where they had full control. The scenes were fantastic and inspired. They commanded the language with confidence and complete understanding. The best part was watching them work through design challenges together and seeing that they respected their directors, even if it was a peer who was leading them.
What is a recent proud moment you had with/for your students?
I am proud of my students on the daily. The work they create in the classroom is inspired. We always end our rehearsals with ‘Thank you for letting me be vulnerable”. This is something we started in 2013 as a response to the appreciation we have for creating a space that allows failure, exploration, growth, and support for one another. The last two years were particularly hard. There was a period of time where we were not allowed to create theatre or gather together, even while other organizations could continue around us. My students came together in the best way this year as we presented Romeo & Juliet and then a one act called Women, a modern comedy inspired by Little Women. They trusted me completely as I pushed them to tackle Shakespeare. They trusted me completely when I told them our One Act would be inspired by mid 2000s sitcoms yet tell the story of Little Women. They brought down the house on both productions. My Mercutio was given special recognition by the Orlando Shakes and a scholarship to attend their summer programs. Our one act Women received straight superior ratings at District and was so well received by the audience. They worked so hard after so long without live theatre and I could not have been more proud of their well-deserved support.
What ways can the community support theatre in our schools or your program specifically?
The best way to support theatre in our schools is by signing your students up for our programs or coming to see our productions. Sharing theatre with your family is one of the best gifts you can give. Live theatre supports important conversations and allows families to connect with each other through the stories and characters that are shared on the stage. Purchasing tickets to our shows allows our students to continue to share their talents. If you cannot support through your time, giving even the smallest amount of donations means supporting a child in an activity that keeps them in school and away from hurtful distractions. You can support us directly through donations here or by seeing our productions!
Thank you OCPS Arts for sharing your theatre teachers with us!