Insanity vs. Sanity

By: Shannon Boatwright

“I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.”
― Edgar Allan Poe

Most people have heard of and read at least some of the works of Edgar Allan Poe. I have many favorites when it comes to his stories, poems, and quotes. Currently, I am producing and directing a production with my 8th-grade honors drama students called, “Shuddersome: Tales of Poe”. This show features some of Poe’s best works, some that I had never heard of until I came across this play from TheatreFolk.com. It’s a brilliant play that pieces together Poe’s works in a very intriguing, unique and entertaining way. Of course, I’ve added my own special touch to it by incorporating music, song, and dance, adding even more depth and umph to the eerie mystery of Poe’s tales. As we’ve been working on the production, I’ve had the opportunity to dive deeper into the life of Poe and learn more about his tragic world.

I’d always been fascinated by his quote, “I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.” My thoughts go in many different directions when I think on this quote. I think of the times I wish I could just sleep and stay in my dreams, or never wake from my fantasies. I think of how the busyness and stress of my life make me feel insane at times, yet it’s the moments of boring normalcy when creative busyness does not overtake my life, that I feel crazy in my saneness. Is it because in all the moments when I’m so busy, I don’t have the time nor energy to think too much about things? Probably. It’s a fascinating topic for sure.

It is said that when Poe wrote this statement about being insane and claiming his intervals of sanity as horrible, that he was describing his dealing with his wife’s illness. Having to battle through the ups and downs of his wife’s horrible sickness really did him in. To cope he drank alcohol excessively, I think to provide that little bit of escape into insanity. I believe it’s the moments of terrible reality, the stress of caring for his wife as she suffered so much with tuberculosis, that gave him his horrible moments of sanity. Most of the people Poe cared about died. He really did live quite a tragic life. I can only imagine going through all the loss he experienced, and part of me cannot blame him for having moments of madness, releasing the angst and horror of life through words.

I could probably write a blog post for every single one of his famous quotes. There are so many mysterious and poignant words from Poe that instigate all sorts of interesting discussions. I’m sure there are many different interpretations of them all too, which in my mind, is a sign of an excellent writer promoting and instigating deep thought.

What are your favorite works of Poe and your interpretations of his words?

Success in Entertainment

By: Shannon Shull

“I love watching school drama performances. I have seen many over the years at middle schools and high schools from many different districts. The drama performance from Friday was by far the best performance I have ever seen. It was so much fun to watch the performance, it was very creative, and I just didn’t want it to end. I was so proud of the students, but really impressed with how amazing this production was. I doubt any program in the state could compare.” 

It’s my second year of teaching in the public school arena and I somehow survived yet another enormous show. I took on the task of creating something truly entertaining while providing my 70 honors students with a fun learning experience. I about lost my sanity in the process, but hey, I guess any true, dedicated artist sacrifices their body and a level of sanity in order to create amazing things!

honors drama show

The quote above came from a respected fellow teacher that recently moved to our district. I was so pleasantly surprised to have him send this email not only to me, but to the principal of the school where I teach. Comments like these mean the world to me. Besides the standing ovation of an audience applauding your work, hearing the students brag about their incredible experience and listening to their parents thank you for all of your hard work, well…that certainly helps make the 70-hour work weeks leading up to the show a little easier to forgive and forget! And at the end of the show, upon completing all the bows of my young stars, a student proceeded to take the microphone from me and share lovely words about their teacher. Several of them passed the microphone around and spoke about how grateful they were for me – one even declaring that she was thankful that I taught her to embrace her weirdness and be confident in her talents. I cried as I felt validation for the hard work I’ve dedicated to teaching these kids!

Entertainment success

And the icing on the cake for me was the truly priceless gift of having my own children in the audience supporting me and seeing the fruits of my labor. Though I’m an artist and a teacher, I am a mother first and having my precious ones present to support me, well, let’s just say it helped to complete the moment. My babies know that I work incredibly hard on my shows and they adore my students, so it was important that they be able to see the finished product. Not to mention, I knew that this would be a show that they would actually like! This recent show was all about the 1980s and featured all sorts of 80s fun that is relatable to all ages. The thought of my own children not being able to come to my show was heartbreaking. My daughter had a make-up soccer game that threatened to keep her away. This was not easy on me, to say the least. Needless to say, when I saw my parents bring both my babies in before the show started, I broke down crying. It was a joyful cry at the sight of them, knowing my angels would be there to share this big moment with me!

Me and my girl, Mina

The greatest compliments I received all night, that truly made my heart swell, came after the show, when I asked my son what he thought of the show. My son, who is incredibly hard to please and typically has no desire to see any live show of any sort, responded with total enthusiasm. “It was the best show ever!!!!” And on the car ride home, my daughter said to me, “Mama, it was totally worth it.” I responded, asking her what was totally worth it? She said, “Missing my soccer game to come to your awesome show!”

Yep, gold…absolute stars and pixie dust… treasures. That was indeed the icing on the cake that took blood, sweat and lots of tears to create! It’s the little things, ya’ll. Entertainment success achieved. 🙂