School Play

School isn't Christa Forster's thing -- which is odd, considering that she happily taught high school English, first at Jesse H. Jones High School and then at St. John's School, during most of the past decade.

"I love learning, I love reading, I love writing, I love literature, I love people," she says. "But I don't like school. I don't think my experience is unique. Why are so many people dissatisfied with the educational system?"

Forster tries to answer that question in her one-woman show, Anti-Logical Pedagogical. In it, she plays Geraldine Entendido, a desk-dwelling teacher whose kids call her Miss Entendido (i.e., "misunderstood").

"The teacher begins by welcoming the audience as if they are fellow educators or visitors to the classrooms," says Forster, "then takes them on this wild ride through her day, which consists of planning and designing rubrics, setting objectives and defining standards."

The character bucks against these duties and constantly questions the status quo. "I know almost nearly next to nothing," she says, "and it's taken me a very long time and a lot of hard work to reach this stage of my development."

Recognizing the arbitrariness of standardized testing, Entendido devises her own way of grading: the Scantron dance. "She grades them by dropping them and watching the way they fall," says Forster.

If Anti-Logical criticizes the school system, it pays homage to students. "What always struck me," says Forster, "was their authenticity. They're still so much in the throes of being human and haven't started worrying about what they're going to do with their lives...It's just really high drama. It's high comedy, too."

Forster recently left the classroom to make art and to write full time, and for her, the show is a way of digesting her teaching experience. "In a way," she says, "this is a culminating activity -- which is teacher-ese for end-of-the-unit project."

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Cathy Matusow
Contact: Cathy Matusow