“Yo, Miss,” the students in the South Bronx high school greet the newbie drama teacher, and in her one-woman show, Ripple of Hope: One Teacher’s Journey to Make an Impact, Karen Sklaire takes the audience on a breezy, whirlwind tour of the absurdities and dysfunction of New York’s public schools.
Miss Sklaire does a fine job of personalizing her students with affection, humor, and, ultimately, hope…
Miss Sklaire, a tiny woman with a gigantic singing voice and a busload of streetwise New York accents, recreates her decision on 9/11 to abandon her Equity actress quest for stardom and dedicate her life to teaching, a la Hilary Swank in the film, Freedom Writers. Bubbling over with idealism and naivety, Sklaire walks us through her impossible mission to engage her most challenging, most circumstantially challenged students through the magic of theatre. Armed with only an IPod full of Michael Jackson tunes and lesson plans full of name games and vocal warm-ups, Sklaire manages nonetheless to woo her students onto the stage and into the dramatic land of objectives—and, in a few cases, to change their lives forever.
Told with self-deprecating humor and manifold anecdotes—from a Bruce-Springsteen-strumming rocker principal in the Bronx to a Broadway-musical-belting, bow-tie-sporting principal in Chinatown–Sklaire again and again watches helplessly as her dream principals move on to calmer waters, replaced by high-stakes testing driven bureaucrats with no time for drama anymore. Sigh. Such is the state of public education in the age of No Child Left Behind.
While the narrative of Ripple of Hope: One Teacher’s Journey to Make an Impact is a bit choppy and at times inexplicable, Miss Sklaire does a fine job of personalizing her students with affection, humor, and, ultimately, hope, and, when she raises her voice in Broadway song, she blows us off the tiny stage at The Tree House Lounge.
Running Time: 60 minutes with no intermission.
Advisory: Profanity and adult content.
Ripple of Hope:One Teacher’s Journey to Make an Impact runs through July 25th 2015 at The Tree House Lounge, which is located at 1000 Florida Ave., NE, Washington, DC.
For tickets, click here.
For info on Capital Fringe, click here.