We have just finished our final day of the play, In a Grove, Four Short Fables by Eric Coble. I am breathing a sigh of contentment looking back at the past few weeks of energy that was poured into the play. Here is a look at that process.
The students are gathered after the script has been chosen and they work through their first out loud reading. They learn that it is set in Japan and begin looking through books which explains some of the terminologies and directs their minds into the culture for costumes and set design. They were able to watch a high school production that helped spark creative ideas to be able to conceptualize costumes and props. The student design crew compared the images created in their mind from a dry reading to those after watching a video and chose their own flavor of masks and costumes. Each day of reading built the images and design concepts.
The Voyagers joined with the Navigators representing the 4th through 8th grades. We split into groups of set design, technical elements, and players. The students were paired up with parent volunteers and staff to teach and guide their process. We held group discussions to decide and identify responsibilities required to present the play by May 18th, 2018. Students collaborated on innovative solutions for design and technical problems that arose during the rehearsals. The blend of ages, talents, and student leaders proved beneficial for an amazing final outcome.
The students spent time in practice and in the classroom imagining how their character might move on the set, pulling further back to build the story outside of the spoken words and write down the emotions and feelings of their characters. They chose the physical movement choices, developing their characters on stage. Questions! I am not sure I could accurately guess how many questions the director asked the students to guide their thoughts on how the acting on the stage should be executed.
The four small plays included our Explorer class as well, represented by our 1st through 3rd graders. We were able to share in small groups and practice with peers as our audience. After weeks of preparation and practice, we were able to present our theater work to the greater audience for the Friday Dinner Theater and Saturday Afternoon Tea.
I am often asked why we spend so much time on the play. This year we have been working on it since the day after Spring Break. I am thankful for the time that it allows individual students to prioritize their time and use it wisely; reading, memorizing and practicing their lines. I smile as I overhear the conversations of set design, face painting, and costumes. I am in awe as students are learning these roles for the first time that also include the technical stage properties of sets, sounds, and lighting. This time is precious as the students explore and learn these new roles. The students are glad that they have the choice to excel in their interests. Me? I can’t help but forecast into the future, wondering whose names will be in the credits of a professional production, or who will become a better leader by experiencing this teamwork, or who will be sparked to draw, create, or read outside of their comfort zone next week. I believe it is time well spent.
~ Teacher Angie