Celebrating Growth at the Quincy
Posted 17 April 2015 12:00 AM by Lynn Mullin
Our performance, The Reason We Have Tide, was a folk tale based on several questions (and answers) the students came up with, including, “Why can’t we breathe under water?” and “Why is there a high tide and low tide?” Students also came up with possible lines that could happen at different points in the plot. Additionally, we all brainstormed and voted on our favorite settings (lava field and ocean being two of them). With these pieces of the story in hand, the play evolved into a ten-minute folk tale that follows four children on their quest to ask the Sun for advice.
Josiah Quincy Elementary School takes their performances very seriously, and this was no different. Ms. Sheung put together a slide show of students’ drawings as a backdrop, and each student was either dressed in their best outfits or in an innovative costume, which ranged from traditional Chinese coats to a volcano. She also worked tirelessly to help them rehearse, taking time out of the school day for them to memorize and run the show. This certainly showed in the final performance, as the students were confident with both their lines and their blocking.
I feel like the word that best describes this group is growth. Coming in, many of the students were labeled as “challenged” in some way. But by the performance, a student who “might have trouble learning lines” because of his ADD knew exactly where to go, what to say, and when. This was also true for another student who often “spaced” during class. The student who was shy and often chose not to speak was a fireball of energy and openly joked around with her classmates. The student who has been working to fix her stutter said the clearest, most well-projected lines of the group. The student who lacked attention for authority and often chose not to participate in classroom activities not only participated, but knew every line of the show.
With these individual growths has come a small (but noticeable) change in classroom dynamics. At the beginning of the program, we needed to keep everything as structured as possible, or else we would lose the class’s attention. New or surprising things had to be handled with care so as not to throw off the rest of the day’ programming. But on the day of the performance, I made a last-minute decision to have students pass a handheld microphone from character to character throughout the show. Not only did they take on the last-minute addition with the grace of professional actors, but it was apparently so smooth in the final performance that some people didn’t even notice the microphone switching hands!
I feel truly blessed to have worked with this group. It wasn’t always easy to match the students’ energy, but they are truly beautiful and talented people, and I hope that this experience has reminded them of that fact.