Monday, February 18, 2013

My Favorite Art Project Revisited

This is my favorite art project that I do with my students. Its basically just creating different lines and weaving them in a 3D structure. I did it last year with my kinders and I was amazed to see what they created. I did it again with all the grades and was still amazed to see how they envisioned the space and how they all turned out so different.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Presenting: The Volcano Rangers, The Nice Liberty, and Never Leave a Princess Alone

This post is a bit overdue but I have found it hard to reflect on my students performances.
I wrote a previous blog post about this, but for the past few months I have been leading my students in writing and performing their own original plays. To read a synopsis of the stories see previous blog post called "My Students Original Plays." This has been really special for me because this is why I am passionate about teaching theatre. I love seeing students empowered to have their own voice, ideas, and stories be heard. I had each group come up with the characters, setting, and problem of the story. As a class we came up with the basic plot line  I let the oldest group write their own lines. For the younger kids, I wrote the actual lines out.

Overall, I found the whole process very rewarding. The kids were a lot more invested in their characters and the play because it was their words, who they wanted to play, and what they thought was funny. They enjoyed rehearsing most of the time and had fun with their parts. I did not have one single student drop out of the play because they didn't want to do it anymore or they didn't enjoy it. Even the students with behavior problems worked hard so that they could be apart of the show.

The actual performance was a bit disappointing for me. I am really hard on myself and how it goes and I just want everything to be perfect. The oldest group went first. They had some missed cues and some costume issues. They did a good job but I know they could have done better. The next play was the K/1st graders. I was so busy changing the set and making sure the props were set that I didn't have time to make sure all my actors were in place before the curtain opened. A lot of them entered from the wrong side of the stage which threw the other actors off. They were given personal mics, which kept falling off. They did well considering that a lot of the mistakes were beyond their control. They knew all their lines. The looked cute but I knew it could have ran more smoothly. As I was setting up for the last play I asked the Lord for it to go well. I needed to end on a good note after all the mess ups of the last 2 plays. The last group was my 2nd/3rd graders. The Lord answered by prayers and it went beautifully. This group of kids were the best actors and most serious about the rehearsal process. The audience laughed at all their jokes and they hit every cue. I was very proud of them. They were also the only group that I got to see as they came offstage. As they went back to change out of their costumes they chanted, "We are the champions." I think they had a really good time with it.

The painting above is something that I painted to try and capture what this process meant for me. Its a close up of a shoe running across the stage. There was a part in the K/1 play where they run through the whole auditorium. They loved that part. Most of my girls have shoes that look like this.

Here are some other highlights for me from the whole process:
-When one of my kinders suggested inside a volcano for the setting of the play
-My Vampire that really took to his part and made it hilarious
-Creating the sets/costumes/props. I got to be creative myself!
-Seeing one of my quietest students able to find her voice and speak her lines loudly. I literally jumped for joy.
-Seeing one of my students so excited that we picked her idea for the ending of the play
- The moment when I threatened to cancel rehearsal because of their behavior and they as a group shouted, "Nooooo!!" Who would have thought I would see the day that not doing rehearsal is a punishment.
-When they tell me we have to do the scene over again because they know if can be better.
-Being amazed by this one 1st grader who could memorize his lines and blocking.

Here are my favorite lines from the play. (Yes some of them I wrote, but it was the delivery that made them memorable. ) Out of context they may not make sense but this is more for my memories
- Somebody told me it was a sauna.
- Run for your life!!
-We better pull them out quick or this lava is going to burn their legs off.
-Well I guess they are not Volcano Rangers.
- Go, go Volcano Rangers!
-Well do something, but whatever you do, don't get my hair wet.
-I'm too pretty to die.
- For the love of hamsters!
- Kids today, what are you going to do?
-I will uncapture you if you marry me.

One of the panels for the NYC set

Outside of the castle
Inside the volcano panels

My mom sewed part of this to make a hamster beanie
Statue of Liberty props