Lily Dwoskin, Teaching Artist for Kings and Queens, Oh My!
There is something singularly wonderful about introducing a child to the art of theatre; to share with them a story that will grow and develop over the course of a semester. In Kings and Queens, Oh My! we work together as a class to bring the story these children have to tell to life, and to discover all the wonderful ideas waiting to be shared with each other.
We began by unifying as storytellers.
Together we tossed our magic ball and told a story from beginning to end, each student adding the next bit of information, the next bit of dialogue, the next bit of adventure. We told tales of princesses who fell into a painting, knights who battled for honor, and even of walruses who were looking for equal rights. It didn’t matter what the stories were about, only that we were working together to tell them.
Then it came time to begin work on our own play.
Every child came up with his or her own character complete with a personal history and a reason for their being in the play. What we came up with was a play that included eight princesses, a prince, a host of knights and adventurers and a friendly dragon. How could all those characters fit in one play? For that answer we turn to the brains of the operation: the children. Our group of kids came up with a story line, which I went home and wrote out for them.
I have never seen children care so much about a project.
They were right there with me every step of the way, wanting their play to be the best that it could be. Feeding off their enthusiasm, I wanted to be sure they had some experience of the behind the scenes work that goes on in theatre.
The students were split into three committees; costumes, props, and sets (although when it came down to it, every body worked together on craft day). I think the students did a fabulous job bringing their fairy tale kingdom to life, transforming our classroom into a land where talking dragons can save the day.
In the end, theatre isn’t about who has the starring role. It isn’t about putting on perfectly choreographed dance numbers, or delivering a Shakespearean sonnet with ease. It is about a group of people working together to share their story with an audience, and these kids are ready to share.