Wednesday, February 24, 2010

First Draft: The Pre-K Play

Our Pre-K class has been working on writing the script for it’s year-end "graduation" play since the beginning of January. It's been a piecemeal effort so far, with some of the 11 kids being far more involved than others. We’ve tested our script out on stage twice already, then yesterday had a group discussion/brainstorming session that involved going through the first half of the script together. 

This is the 7th Pre-K play I’ve been involved with and if experience serves we are nowhere near a final script. In fact, in yesterday’s session 5 of the kids changed their minds about what character they wanted to play, major sections were eliminated and major sections were added. We will be doing rewrites through mid-April, most of which will happen during our weekly rehearsals, when we’ll need to have a finalized script to work from to rehearse the production.

Here is the current, annotated script:

A merry-go-round with horses on it.

Then we need some buildings, garages, houses, and some vehicles like a car.

I will be serving as the play’s narrator and despite the fact that this is a description of our backdrops, I plan to read it aloud for the audience because this is how the children have written it. I try my best to honor their exact words.

An Apple Tree waddles in.

Anjali has been a Duck in the play until last week when she decided she would rather be an Apple Tree. This Apple Tree still waddles.

A real Unicorn Pegasus.

This is the introduction of Annabelle’s character. Her older sister Charlotte also played a unicorn Pegasus in her Pre-K production two years ago.

And then the Lilac Fairy.

Ella has been Sleeping Beauty up until yesterday when she decided to make the switch.

A Kitty Cat that is black.

This is Josephine’s introduction.

Then 3 Mean Black Kittens drive up.

This is where it’s going to get confusing unless the kids decide to make some changes, which I suspect they will. Jack has always wanted to be a Mean Black Kitty, but yesterday both Thomas and Marcus decided that they both wanted to be Mean Black Kitties as well. I’m guessing that as we rehearse, the confusion will either delight the boys and we’ll have to work out some conventions to help the audience, or they’ll see the problem and elect to be different characters.

The Lilac Fairy goes on the Train.

Finn P. is our Train. We’ve not yet figured out how Ella is going to go “on” Finn.

Then there was 3 Mean Kitties scares away Maleficent.

No one wants to be Maleficent and there was some debate yesterday about whether we even want her in the play. We also talked about making a Maleficent puppet which Sarah would operate. She has not wanted to actually be in the play so far, instead accepting my idea that she serve as the Assistant Director, a role that she has so far embraced.

The Big Fairy and the Lilac Fairy come and put fairy dust on the audience to wake them up.

The Big Fairy is Katherine, who I expect will be expanding her role significantly during the rehearsal process.

Then all of the characters get in a battle except the Unicorn Pegasus, Apple Tree, the Black Kitty, one of the Mean Kitties (Thomas), and the 2 Fairies.

I’m guessing we’ll need to re-write this to instead indicate who is in the battle. The children tend to rely on my narration to know what to do on stage and this backwards instruction will be confusing.

And then the black Kitty Cat comes and sprinkles fairy dust onto the White Pegasus.

Then the Unicorn Pegasus flies away.

Then the Train, the 3 Mean Kitties, and the Big Fairy goes around the audience.

Running around the audience is always a feature of Woodland Park’s plays. It’s fun and dramatic.

Then the really, really big rainbow nutcracker comes.

This has been a matter of much discussion and debate. A few weeks ago, some of the children were worried that the nutcracker would be too big and frighten the audience, which will include some babies. We settled on the idea of just painting a big one, which didn’t seem so scary. Unfortunately, when we tried painting one as a group, no one was satisfied with the result. Yesterday, we voted that our “nutcracker” looked more like a swimming pool. Instead we will be making our big nutcracker with paper mache.

Then so the nutcracker grows to its own size. Then the Girl comes and plays with her toy nutcracker.

Luna is the Girl.

Then the nutcracker and the Mean Kitties get in a big, big, big, big, big, big, big, big, big, big battle. And then a small robot puts a large bathtub on a battle.

Yesterday, we decided that we will make our bath tub out of a big box and that Sarah, the Assistant Dirctor, will be in charge of putting the bathtub on the battle. Thomas thinks this whole concept is hilarious.

There is a fire and a fire truck puts out the fire.

Again, we had kids worried that a real fire would be too scary, so we had the idea of making the fire from red and orange tissue paper. I tossed out the idea of having a fan blow it from underneath to make it move. Sarah wants to be the one who turns the fan on and off.

The Train goes in the pool and the Kitty Cat goes swimming too.

Good thing we accidentally painted a swimming pool!

Then the ice age comes and the Unicorn Pegasus timbers down a whole bunch of ice and a Mean Kitty (Thomas) waddles away as fast as he can.

Thomas used to be a Penguin until yesterday, hence the waddling. 

This is as far as we got yesterday in our group editing/discussion process. We're going to need a brainstorming session next week to "tighten up" the second half:

The Train should only move. The Train goes very fast and breaks down the tracks. He has a accident!

One Mean Black Kitty (Marcus) fell into a Mean Black Kitty (Jack) and he punched the big black cat. Then he punched the blue tree. Then he punched a rocket.

Then a Mean Black Kitty (Thomas) dives into the big, big, big, big, big, big, big, big, big, big swimming, swimming, swimming, swimming, swimming, swimming, swimming, swimming, swimming, swimming pool, pool, pool, pool, pool, pool, pool, pool, pool, pool.

The Unicorn Pegasus ice skates.

The Mean Black Kitty (Thomas) slips and slides.

The Lilac Fairy she goes into a beautiful castle with pretty walls painted pink.

And a Mean Kitty (Jack) dives into a pool. Then Maleficent puts the Mean Kitty Cat to sleep.

And then once the Mean Black Kitty (Thomas) went there, Maleficent puts the Mean Kitty to sleep.

Then we’ll make a forklift and the forklift will pick the Mean Black Kitty (Thomas) up and toss it into the air and everyone onto the ceiling.

And then Maleficent changes from bad to good and wakes the Unicorn Pegaus up.

Maleficent wakes the Mean Kitty (Thomas) up.

Then the Big Fairy flies on top of the Train. Then she lands right next to the Train. And she rides the Train.

It’s nighttime and there is stars and a moon.

The Unicorn Pegasus stays up in the night.

While the Big Fairy’s on the Train, she’s watching TV on the Train.

There’s gonna be Maleficent. She’ll just close her eyes and bonks her head.


This is what we have so far. Some of the kids have clearly written themselves much larger parts than others and I suspect that this will become evident to the children with smaller parts as they find themselves standing around a lot during rehearsals. I’m also guessing there will be a lot more running around the audience because there always is.

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Shelly said...

This makes me SO excited for Charlie to be in pre-k next year.

Deborah J. Stewart said...

I love it - the story is so action packed and reminds me why I don't own a black kitty - especially one that waddles:) I love how everyone except everyone is going to be in the battle. I don't see how you keep it straight! LOL!

I too will be directing an annual preschool musical - quite different than what you are doing - but has its own charm and learning opportunities. I hope I will be able to take pictures along the way. Rehearsals start in May.

Michelle said...

Wow... what an Imaginative Play!!! I give you lots of kuddos, I know I couldn't do it. I have my hands full just getting 8-10 kids to sing some songs and recite some poems and fingerplays :) Good Luck, I REALLY look forward to following this thread to the end :)

SurprisedMom said...

The creativity is amazing! Kudos to you for encouraging their creativity and for your patience as they change their minds again and again. The hard work the students and you are putting into the play will be appreciated by their parents I'm sure. I was always happy to see my children in their preschool plays. (Yes, I remember back that far. :D) Good luck to you and your students, or should I say "Break a leg!"

Ms Debbie said...

I love that you allow your kids to " write the play. You are a genius.

Melissa B. said...

This is so reassuring as I am going through this process with my JKs this year too and I wonder what our audience will think of our play which is completely written by the JKs. So far it involves a beach party, a unicorn bird, a dark cave, and dancing in the clouds - can't wait to see where it ends up!

KC said...


Launa Hall said...

Boy, did I ever love reading this. Just wish I could see it!

Eva C. said...

Yeah! Josephine had been stewing up her ideas for action in the play for the two weeks prior to this Pre-K day you blogged about. I'm thrilled to read that she finally spoke up to write herself more into the play as she wanted. Now, let's see if she remains a black cat...