Posts Tagged ‘Audience’
An assignment in my creative drama class was to watch a video of English preschoolers completely immersed in dramatic play. It was a delightful way to start my day! here is the link -
and here is my response to it:
The first thing I noticed about the children’s behavior was how free they seemed in their activities, and how very very happy and busy. How comfortable with each other and how very open they were not only with themselves in their activities but in their acceptance of what their classmates were choosing to do as well. The puppet show amused me greatly from the way it took place from the way the audience was viewing the action through the flowers in the planter to the very verbal way the little girl was conducting the story: I will not let you pass until you give me three questions! And then the required questions were very funny and mixed up constructions of child lore and current TV shows. To hear Dr. Who referenced by such tiny people gave me a big giggle.
I thought it was wonderful to hear about the school’s philosophy that children learn through play, and that the complete mission of the class and focus of the teachers seems to be supporting play and how the students are allowed to make their own choices for what they wish to explore, whether they wish to play on their own or with others, and in this way will be helped to learn to make solid choices. I’ve observed in other settings that making choices can be very hard for preschoolers, and it seems to me an important skill towards building self esteem.
Hard skills were everywhere! From the little scientist with her magnifying glass (I did have a hard time not laughing when she announced that she discovered a yellow spider and then seemed to smear it across the lens of the magnifying glass – poor spider! All in the name of science…)
More science skills practice was visible in the mirror play the two little girls were enjoying, and the books on insects below the drama area, and it seems to me that the restaurant play would also include some math skills as the children talked about portions (fractions? Too much of a stretch?) and perhaps would then have progressed to how much to charge for their insect-filled delicacies. And pre-literacy skills were everywhere, from the storytelling during the puppet show and the creation of scenarios and plots for dramatic play to the recounting of the day’s activities during the David Dog pass around circle time.
I was very impressed with the lead teacher’s statement that they encourage the children to use their interests as a starting place for their learning, and was blown away by her statement “we learn best when we are enjoying ourselves.” Such a simple and obvious statement. How true that is for all of us at every age, and how often it is forgotten or, worse, discounted.
Yesterday I had the delightful experience of watching the USC Opera Experience for kids and their original performance: Fred the Bull! It was based on the wonderful story by Munro Leaf: The Story of Ferdinand. One of my absolute all time favorite children’s books.
The director of the program started out the experience that evening by telling us that the children met for the first time that Monday morning. the book was read to them in english and then in italian. Next they began brainstorming and came up with a story of their own that was close in theme and concept – there were cows and bulls – but pretty much the original story had taken on a modern twist. Smoothies figured in the new creation quite significantly. It was delightful.
There were only 6 children in the little production, but the director told the audience that there were fully 15 professionals – professors, choreographers, accompanists, etc. – supporting the young students. This was music to my ears, as I am all about surrounding the children with as many professionals as possible in order that they may learn not only the caliber of work important for a quality learning experience, but build their self esteem as it becomes clear to them that what they are doing is fully worthy of the attention of such experts.
The show was short – only 10 minutes – but start to finishh it was child-led, and professionally supported.
I was enchanted.
This week in our little Center Stage group it finally became clear what we were working towards. Not a big fancy revue or even a recital, but a presentation of our work: a work in progress.And I finally gave in to what I have never given into before, and put some of my quiet little ones on mic. It is going to make them hear-able and in this way we can concentrate now of getting their little pieces ready for performance rather than my always stopping them to say that I can’t hear them. I want them to be comfortable at this point, and relax into what their performance is going to be.
It is really quite charming, the way they have taken to their work. I am very proud of them. I will talk to the audience about how the show is going to be a demonstration of what we have been working on, rather than a finished product, and not to be concerned if they see me stop and work with the kids during the evening. And this way it will be a chance to show the families how we all work together to create a production, and hopefully our methods will shine and the parents will understand this way how the goal is always to foster growth and confidence in the children, rather than to showcase their specific talents. And those talents will, I am sure, shine through as well.
The Glenforest elementary school’s Peter and the Wolf production plans passed from the exploration zone – with the children learning to recognize and identify the characters, the instruments that represented the characters and the themes those instruments play to conjure up the characters - into the actual creating the show zone this week. We began writing lyrics, and the sweet voices of the children chimed in happily as they caught on immidiately to what was happening. So it looks perhaps as if the show is going to be an opera of sorts!
The middle and high schoolers spent the week learning about storyboarding and how that helps the film maker organize his story into the scenes he wishes to shoot. We were very proud of their work, and of their ability to stand and deliver to the class the process by which they divided up their stories created their storyboards. They worked hard on these and in the end all took it very seriously which was a treat. The next step for the kids will be to decide on a theme and divide into groups for the actual creating of the silent movies. We will be introducing classical pieces of music for them to use in their work for the specific purpose of communicating to the audience the moods as well as the action involved in their production.
We are still a long way from knowing exactly how this is all going to look, but I do know that already the children are taking ownership of the process, and the shows can only benefit from that. And the benefits to the children? Well, that is the most important part of all, and the reason we do this.
This past Monday I went and auditioned for a local community theatre’s production of Gypsy. I don’t audition for much of anything any more; my passion now is for directing and I often lose patience with acting. But once in a while a part will come along that I
have always wanted a crack at, and Mama Rose in Gypsy is one of them.
And you know, it is so good for directors to remember the way it feels to be up there in front of everybody baring your soul and singing your heart out. It takes a great deal of courage for young people to put themselves out there and let their guards down enough to do their work on the stage. I felt that again last Monday. I was here in a new town, in a new theatre, didn’t know a soul in the room, but when I got up on the stage I was in my element again and I knew it. And ok, one of my notes slid out a bit sideways – a terrible moment for sure! – but still I felt that old feeling, the one that I felt when I stepped onto a big stage fir the first time in 10th grade. This was where I was meant to be.
And I know this is what our new young actors are feeling when they get up on that stage. They may not even have known it was something they were missing, but you can see it in their eyes, and I hear it from their parents so often. “He loves coming here. It’s the ony thing he’s ever done that we didn’t have to fight with him to get him to go back to after the first time.” They feel at home, and they feel they belong. And when they are up on the boards for the first time they look around and see the lights and the curtains and the empty seats waiting for the audience and they know they are where they need to be. And slippery note or no slippery note, that’s how I felt last Monday night. And it felt real good.