One of my favorite projects I do with my students is the Ridiculously Sweet Edgar Allan Poe Project (RSEAPP). The direction, when it really gets boiled down, is to take Edgar Allan Poe and be creative with him and his works. Have fun. Explore the macabre. Notice how he uses unreliable narrators, sentences that begin with adverbs, and detectives at a time when nobody else was doing that. At the same time, develop your skills as a script writer, researcher, poet, actor, and filmmaker. It’s just so much fun to do and to watch as a teacher.
That’s what my American Lit students are in the midst of. Today, my “Cask of Amontillado” group was struggling with an idea. They want to create a film out of the story, but modernize it a bit. But since so much of Poe is narration, that was something they needed to get creative with. They decided to have little cutaway segments with each character talking about his thoughts while this is going on. They explained this idea to me by referring to how they do it on Keeping up with the Kardashians. So I thought, “Okay. This is my reality TV group.” I tucked that into my brain for if I would need it later. I continued walking around the room, advising my groups as needed, and I made it back to them.
They weren’t sure what was going on with the character Montressor. They didn’t think his story really made sense, and they were dancing around the concept of an unreliable narrator. So to help them, I brought up The Bachelor. “You know how Britt and Kelsey act one way around Chris, and one way around the girls of the house, and another way when they’re doing their cutaway scenes? That’s sort of like Montressor in this story. He might not be telling us exactly what happens, and it’s possible that he’s even a little crazy.”
Their jaws dropped, as their male high school teacher was talking about The Bachelor [and quite expertly, I might add!]. But they were also nodding along. “Yeah! Oh, that makes sense!”
The other problem they were having had to do with Luchesi. Though he is referenced throughout the story, he’s not actually a character in the story. They realized that, given Montressor’s penchant for lying and the fact that there is no wine, Luchesi probably would have no idea of his role in the story. But this group wanted him to have some cutaway scenes. Again, since we were talking The Bachelor, I had to continue in that vein. “Remember when Carly and some other girls told Chris that Britt didn’t really like Arlington? And he was totally taken aback and had no idea? That’s sort of like Luchesi here. He doesn’t have any idea what’s going on, even though he’s being talked about.”
Again, this helped it click for them. Their idea for his cutaway scenes is going to have him, totally straight-faced, saying something like “Umm. . .yeah, I didn’t do that.” “I have no idea what he’s talking about,” and such. It’s going to be awesome. I can’t wait to see what this group comes up with for their finished product. No doubt, it will be fantastic.
And there was actually a benefit for me watching The Bachelor. Who knew?