Monday, May 7, 2007

Children's Drama

I've been quiet this past week because it was the week for the children's drama program at Montessori Children's House of Lansing. Richard and I are drama teachers there and the first week in May is when the children perform.

This year the lower elementary did shows that had peace as a theme. I rewrote some of the reader theater scripts that Aaron Shepherd posts online (his page is a fantastic resource for anyone teaching drama) and turned a poem by Kim Martin Auer into a play. The plays were:

  • Peddler Polly and the Story Stealer
  • When the Twins Went to War
  • More Than a Match
  • The Great War on Mars

The upper elementary did a play called "Misaki and the Four Truths" from Plays Magazine and scenes from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream (which Rick titled "A Midsummer Night's Day Dream.)

The photos in this entry are of my son who played Dr. Sebastian Spellbinder--the villain who steals the stories from the villagers in Taletown. We have lots of other great pictures of all the kids but I don't have permission to post those on the Web, so I'll stick with the pictures of my son. (Sorry, photos removed. I'd be happy to share them with anyone I know who wishes to contact me directly.)

It was a lot of work leading up to the performance as there were rehearsals to conduct, costumes to make, and sets and props to build. All told, we had about 80 children participating. The school's art teacher, Renee Dvorak, is absolutely brilliant and had so many outstanding ideas for how to make things work. She also labored ceaselessly to make sure that the children had everything that they needed and so that the show looked great.

I was especially pleased to see the growth in the children from last year's program to this. All of them had better volume, were more confident in their movements, knew their lines better, and looked like they were having fun. Even when things went wrong, they pushed through and made things work.

It was also a reminder for me of why drama is so useful for children of this age and why it is such a shame when schools cut back on their drama programs. Performances like this are one of those times when the kids have to step up to the plate and shoulder responsibility. There are no adults out there on stage with them. They have to come through and can't rely on anyone else to do it for them. It's also an activity that can be all or nothing. They have to memorize all their lines or they'll be left hanging (and leave their classmates hanging) on stage.

For all that we try to make the environment as safe as possible, there are risks and with those risks come highly satisfying rewards. Many of the kids were almost intoxicated with the applause and certainly there were smiles on everyone's faces.

This afternoon we met with the kids and gave them a chance to talk about what they liked and what they disliked. There were almost no comments in the latter category while they were very quick to praise. We also went around the room and for each child had three of their classmates say something they liked about their performance. Once again, there was a whole lot of good feeling going around the room.

2 comments:

Nicole said...

I am looking for someone to play Diego for my daughter's birthday party. Do you have any idea where I could find an actor for this occasion?

Thank you

Bridgette Redman said...

Drop me a line at bredman.lsj@gmail.com and I'll try to suggest a few names.