While the rest of the school went on with its regular Sunday schedule, twenty students from English teacher Suzanne Hannay’s senior classes voyaged to New York City and back.
The purpose of the trip on January 31, was to see the Broadway play A View from the Bridge. “The play is about blue collar workers in the Red Hook section of 1950s Brooklyn,” explained Ms. Hannay.
Ms. Hannay had already been planning to read the Arthur Miller play in her senior English class when she saw an announcement for it in The Greenfield Recorder.
“It was really cool to see the play,” attested Grace Burns ’10, a member of Ms. Hannay’s seventh period class. “We had acted the scenes out in class, but it was really exciting to see the play on Broadway.”
Fellow classmate Haley Patoski ’10 agreed, “I was a lot more interested in the play after seeing it in New York.”
This isn’t the first time Ms. Hannay has taken her class to see a Broadway play. “Last year,” said Ms. Hannay, “we read and saw All My Sons with John Lithgow and Katie Holmes.” Students also had the privilege of meeting and talking with star John Lithgow.
This production brought two more Hollywood stars to the stage. “Liev Shrieber and Scarlett Johansson did an amazing job portraying complicated characters. There was intense emotion between them,” Kevin Smith ’10 said.
Ms. Hannay created her English course “Literature of the 1950s” in 2004 after discovering “a huge similarity between the 1950s—with fear of communism, McCarthyism, and atomic bomb— and the 2000s post 9 / 11 with fear of weapons of mass destruction, Islamic terrorists, and any voice that questioned American righteousness,” she described.
Ms. Hannay’s interest in the 1950’s spawned the class which has gained the nickname “50/50.” The syllabus includes novels, plays and movies from the fifties and the course explores the defining qualities of the decade and how it compares to present day America.
If this visit was so successful, why don’t more classes go on field trips? While Ms. Hannay wishes that more classes at Deerfield went on trips, she explained that “they’re never going to happen unless we start school a week earlier.”
Both Burns and Patoski agreed that finding the time for one of these excursions is difficult. “The trip was really fun,” said Burns, “but it was hard to lose my whole Sunday.”
It is certainly tempting to stick to the comfortable Sunday schedule. And perhaps New York City is too far to travel on a busy weekend day, but as Ms. Hannay pointed out, “Few of us ever make it into Boston, Stockbridge, or even the Smith or Amherst College Art Galleries. That’s a shame.”