Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Plimoth Rocks

I'm tone deaf.

Dogs located several blocks away howl when I sing.

It's such a waste too because I know the lyrics to basically every song ever written.

Simon Cowell would have a field day with me.

And so I live vicariously through my students. Some can sing really well. Others are like me. But, when you are 8 it really doesn't matter because as long as you look cute in a costume on stage Gramma is happy.

I've done many performances over the years. It's stressful. It's time consuming. But, oh my gosh is it rewarding.

I'm so not a sappy individual, but seeing a student on stage beaming with pride and having a blast brings a tear to my eye. To provide a child who struggles academically with an opportunity to shine in front of their family and peers is priceless.

We're all overwhelmed with curriculum and pressure and tests. It can be challenging to justify fitting "something extra" into your already over-scheduled day, but I highly encourage you to find a way to give your kiddos the opportunity to perform.

Over the years I've done elaborate productions. There have been full sets constructed and 1st graders memorizing detailed monologes. Our most recent production was not the case. It was a super simple (though not without stress...there is always stress), highly educational performance. The outcome was the same: proud parents and kids oozing with confidence and a sense of accomplishment.

Last week my kids took part in a performance that I titled, "Plimoth Rocks." It was at the opposite end of the elaborate spectrum. In fact it couldn't have been more simple. The entire 3rd grade stayed on stage throughout (on chorus risers). Everyone had a small narrative. They could read it from a card or memorize it. My partner teacher sat in front of the stage and whispered the names of the kids who needed to come up to the mic when it was their turn. I played DJ.

There was some basic basic in fact that we introduced it the day before of the performance. We collected $3.00 from each child and bought them either a black or a tan tshirt at the craft store and they wore either black or khaki pants. We paired this with macaroni necklaces or paper collars. I hot glued (because not only can I not sing, but I also can't sew) a rectangle of white fabric on the girls' shirts to make "aprons" and cut fringe on the tan tshirts. They looked adorable.

We showed a slide show of pictures from our field trip. iMovie makes it very easy to throw something impressive together in no time. Add some fun music and you've got a show.

I should add that although I played elf #4 in my own 5th grade class play, I have no drama experience. If I can do it then you can do it.

The key for me is that I write my own scripts. It is time-consuming, but doing so allows me to create custom parts for individual children. I play to their personalities and talents. I also like to add fun music.

Because if there is anything Gramma likes more than seeing her little lovey in a cute costume it is seeing that little lovey in a cute costume rocking it out and shaking his groove thing on stage.

When I did a fractured fairy tale production we used Brick House (3 Little Pigs), for Charlotte's Web we used HoeDown Throwdown and for Plimoth Rocks we used classic hits from the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s (Sail Away/Mayflower, Here Comes the Sun/surviving the winter, Lean on Me/Squanto's role in helping the Pilgrims).

Because of time constraints, you do need to tie it in academically. In this case, I included every detail they were required to know into the script. By reading the script over and over and rehearsing together, the children learned all the facts from the unit.

So give it whirl. Have fun with it. Break a leg.


Not literally.

It's how us drama folks speak. ;P

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