Following a recent Morning Meeting presentation from Yale’s improvisation group, the laughter continued with Thursday’s Morning Meeting. Associate Head of School Dennis Hartzell only hinted at the hilarity when he told the community of students, parents, guardians, teachers and staff that student Julia would “lead us in an unusual meditation.”
Julia declared, “I would like to reintroduce laughing meditation,” a practice she remembered from her freshman year at The Bay School. She continued, “Laughing involves the body, soul, mind and emotions. It also reduces stress, which is great, because we’re in midterms right now.”
Students exchanged glances tentatively. Julia asked her audience to stand in silence. Then she instructed, “Think of a funny joke you heard recently, start jumping up and down and laugh.”
In an instant, heads were bobbing up and down in a sea of laughter. Those who were still trying to recall funny jokes grew smiles of amusement as they watched their friends jumping up and down. Julia encouraged them, “make funny faces at your friends!”
As the jumping died down a bit, Julia commented playfully on the half of the audience that wasn’t jumping and laughing, “that makes me upset. Please keep jumping and laughing.” The ridiculous nature of her request sent ripples of smiles through the crowd.
Once Julia gave the audience permission to sit back down, she suggested, “Today when you are laughing about a joke, reflect on how that joy makes you feel.”
With that, Julia introduced the Drama 2 students who immediately began taking over the stage. Student Chase announced, “I need some dramatic last words!”
Student Fiona shouted, “You never loved me!” Cackles circulated.
Starting with that telling accusation, the actors performed a scene of desperate heartbreak in real time and in reverse. The audience could see the gears in the actors’ heads turning, the actors’ minds concentrating to recall what came next in the sequence.
When the giggles died down, a new scene materialized. Drama students took volunteers from the audience to “be their arms.” Each drama student kept their arms behind their back while the student volunteers put their arms through and gestured with exaggerated emotion.
“Welcome to our cooking show, Cooking 101!” rejoiced the student at stage left.
Her co-star continued, “Let’s welcome our guest Brittany Tears!”
Brittany entered with flamboyant gestures and attitude. To begin cooking, one actor insisted on kneeling down to “get the cooking instructions” from an invisible drawer. The awkward motion of the strange-armed character elicited guffaws from the onlookers. The characters proceeded to prepare for their cooking task. Brittany Tears asked if the actors would like a massage, and she flailed her student-volunteer hands wildly. This disturbed the other characters and ended the scene in laughter.
Chase quickly asked the crowd to yell out an example of a relationship problem that cats might have. The audience paused, and then chuckled. Someone proposed, “Neutering!”
Chase accepted the idea and then explained the scene. Drama student Stephen was a cat therapist who would pretend to know why a certain cat couple was seeking therapy. Only the cat couple, played by two eager actors, would know the real answer. The cat couple entered the “office.”
Stephen greeted them, “Meow are you?”
The female cat began her rant and settled upon the conclusion that things were “catastrophic.” She argued with her partner cat about who was raising their current kittens. She further insinuated that her partner would skip out on her and hang with feral cats. These accusations of infidelity brought out a chorus of “oohs” from the audience.
Her partner responded, “I am not leaving you to hang out in the alley, and two litters of seven kittens each is quite enough!”
Stephen finally guessed the issue at hand and the actors stood up to receive their applause.
Who says midterms week has to be all fret and no frolic? Students at The Bay School strive to balance life enjoyment and lightness of spirit with their acts of academic heroism. Many thanks to Julia, Drama 2 and the members of the community for joining in on the fun.