BEST - If you'd told me that I would be lobbing clumps of toilet roll at my Year 10 boys as part of a theatre trip, I wouldn't have believed you. But that's what happened at a show called Blue Man Group that I took my form to as our end-of-year treat.
All I knew about the show was that three men, painted blue, did incredible things with paint. It sounded just about right for a group of 15-year-olds who had groaned when I'd suggested a production of Much Ado About Nothing as an option. "You said it would be fun," they'd protested, and however much I tried to claim that Shakespeare's comedies were funny, they knew too much, having been taken to some by their parents.
So Blue Man Group it was. The boys were disappointed that we weren't in the first four rows, where you were given a waterproof cape in case you got soaked, for extra money of course. But as the show began, they were transfixed, even the ones who had tried to be cool and look bored. And when, at the end, some giant rolls of tissue started unravelling from the back of the theatre over our heads, lit up spectacularly by strobe lighting, we all went crazy.
The aim was to grab as much as possible, ball it up and chuck it around. I joined in with as much dignity as. well, with no dignity at all, really.
On the coach home, we wore giant toilet roll ties and scarves, and there was some hanging on the whiteboard in our form room for weeks. It wasn't going to help their GCSEs, but I know they won't forget it.
WORST - I had heard that a production of Susan Hill's The Woman in Black, to which I once took some sixth formers, was going to be scary. Everyone said so. I told the students it would be terrifying and suspenseful and that they would be on the edge of their seats. I also told them to stay quiet.
Half an hour into the production, the suspense was building up so slowly that they began to talk about suing me under the Trade Descriptions Act. "Scary? It's boring," they moaned, and they were tucking into crisps and sweets as though they were having a "Who can rustle the loudest?" competition. No matter how often I shushed them, the people behind us shushed them, or the class good-girl shushed them, they wouldn't shut up. I knew we'd be asked to leave at any minute.
Then things started hotting up on stage and the rustling began to die down. The suspense grew and then, when an actor screamed from behind us suddenly, all the sixth formers screamed too. Soon, they had leapt into each others' laps, where they stayed until the truly terrifying performance had ended.
They didn't say a word on the way home about suing
Fran Hill is about to start a new job as English teacher at an independent girls' school in Warwickshire.