Almost a Wrap – Last Two Intros

Academy Blog week 7

March 19, 2021

Week 7 comes complete with an invitation to share in the celebrations planned for week 8 (already this week)  as well as our last two Academy teacher introductions.   There is so much to watch, to listen to, and to truly take in.  While still personally challenged by all this technology, the one thing zoom does offer is a fabulous opportunity to gaze into the faces of the folks who literally fill our screens, these classes and our lives.  It’s so worth breathing in the joy and excitement fond there.  Know you are cordially invited to take a peek.  (Numbers are available if you read to the end)

This week I’ve  been gratefully watching these last two teachers every bit as much as those they’re teaching.  Rachel’s a born teacher (and gratefully, a fabulous interpreter too.)  Hailey, is a precious Detour actor, getting her very first chance at a whole new role. 

The only class you’re NOT invited to this week is Rachel’s Wednesday BIG ideas class.   There’s a reason…  There has been so much honesty, authentic listening and sharing nurtured through these weekly trust filled exchanges that for once a class is NOT about performance – it’s about simply being.   Christopher LOVES this class.   He told me it helps his brain to stretch.    With that heart felt recommendation I want to share Rachel’s words.   When Rachel asked if she could join Detour, it came by way of an email she wrote to me years and years ago.  Through the absolute sincerity of her words, I could also hear her heart.    I invite you to do the same now.  

Rachel Levit-Ades – the BIG ideas class

Why did you want to be a teacher for Detour?

I started Detour at the same time I started my graduate program in philosophy. Detour actors would often ask what I did for work, or “how philosophy was going.” During Covid, I missed philosophical conversations, in general, and started to dream about what it might mean to facilitate a philosophy discussion group for Detour actors. 

There’s a push towards making philosophy more accessible and available to the public. Yet there hasn’t been much work done in working with people with disabilities, especially those with developmental or cognitive disabilities. Most of our actors won’t attend or won’t be welcome in community college classrooms, let alone universities. The rare high school that has philosophy classes often has those classes as part of an advanced or accelerated program. 

But philosophy is about “love of wisdom” and our actors are very wise. They have opinions and perspectives that are valuable but often overlooked, and they are quite creative. Detour actors are also brave. Philosophy often involves re-thinking what you thought you knew or trying to explain something that seems obvious. Unlike many college freshmen, our actors will tell you what they actually believe and that is wonderful! 

This vulnerability entailed a certain kind of responsibility. The discussions we were having had to be focused on building up people and their ideas, and creating a space where everyone felt safe and supported. Making a philosophy group work for Detour wasn’t about add-on accommodations–the way the group was set up had to respond fundamentally to our participants. Thus, the goal every week wasn’t to teach a topic as much as it was to invite actors to develop their own opinions, and to feel safe trying on new ideas. That being said, we covered most of the topics students would be exposed to in an introductory philosophy course. I’ve been in graduate school for a million years, and developing and presenting some of my favorite topics for this class was an opportunity to return to the wonder that made me so invested in philosophy in the first place. 

We also had a lot of FUN. We rocked out to songs from musicals that related to our themes, and had a pajama party for our discussion about dreams. We took turns practicing mind-reading, and bowing to each other as political officials. Because of Zoom, I was able to disappear when we discussed the Ring of Gyges (the ring from Greek mythology that renders its wearer invisible–an important element of the way Socrates discusses justice!), and I think our actors convinced me that my shoe does not have feelings. 

What’s your favorite part?

My favorite part of teaching my class was hearing our actors’ ideas! Among many many wonderful thoughts, actors offered:

-a nuanced explanation of personal integrity and why that means it’s not OK to talk behind someone’s back

-that something is wrong because it “hurts someone’s heart”

-that a fundamental part of family, friendship, and romantic partnership is “going out to dinner and bowling and having fun”

-that mind-reading does not work because we all make up different stories in our heads

-beautiful portrayals of why Detour is a family!

What’s something you want us to  know about you

Sam and LaRiche took a risk with the class, and I am incredibly grateful. I certainly do not have acting or performance expertise, but they believed in a class that understood “journey into the arts” broadly, and allowed me and the actors to experiment with something new. Our little discussion community has been a great microcosm of Detour camaraderie during a difficult time, and I have loved teaching this class.

And now our final introduction  – Hailey, the multi-faceted talented actress who steals our hearts with  every show.  Her beautiful hands and expressive face speak far louder than any spoken words.  Because ASL is HER language we invited her to be part of the Monday  teaching crew.  She may be the first actor/teacher of this company, but we sincerely believe she won’t be the last. 

So here’s Hailey.

Why did you want to be a teacher for Detour?

 I want to see different things other than as an actor and I  am very excited about that!

What’s your favorite part?

My favorite part is not only I teach the students but also I learn a lot as well – like I did before when I first became an actor!

What’s something you want us to  know about you

Two things: I love to act so much that  when I was little I begged a lot people to act with me! I still act at home every Sunday when I pick a movie for my mom and I to act from! The second thing, I love Lord of the Rings so much! I have been collecting a lot of things and met Graham Mctavish as Dwalin in the hobbit and Elijah wood as Frodo Baggins. I got two signed personal signatures at Phoenix Fan Fusion!

There you have it – all eight of us who are this year’s Academy teachers.  It’s an honor, a challenge, a privilege and always, always an opportunity for us to grow.  This group is the first step in making this Detour transition time a response to providing more opportunity(s) for our actors.   For ever so many years I’ve carried the “teacher” title .. . You notice I’m not quite, not really giving it TOTALLY up – but I AM thrilled to be sharing it with a wide open heart, trust and complete joy.   

Remember, join us, share a little of what this session has been all about.

Thursday March 25th

4-5pm – Sketch Comedy:  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86350115144

5-6pm – Best of Detour:  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85356140641

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