Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Pre-K Play Fourth Draft: Only One Lilac Fairy

It's been a couple weeks since I updated you on the Pre-K play. If you want to start reading from the beginning about this new form of evolutionary theater, here are the links:

First Draft: The Pre-K Play (in which I share the actual original script as co-authored by 11 kids)
The Pre-K Play Second Draft: Featuring An All Lilac Fairy Cast
The Pre-K Play Third Draft: Still A Lot Of Lilac Fairies

We've had a couple rehearsals since last I wrote and the Lilac Fairies are falling like flies. I wasn't surprised when Finn P., a passionately devoted Thomas the Tank Engine fan, decided he wanted to switch back to being a Train two weeks ago, but last week our original Lilac Fairy Ella declared that she was going to be a Superhero. Yesterday, our last rehearsal before spring break, several of her cast mates broke from the Lilac Fairy ranks as well, leaving us this morning with but a single representative of this once mighty race. This last Lilac Fairy is Thomas, who was not in class yesterday. In fairness, we're going to have to give him a chance to switch, and I fear that will be the end of the Lilac Fairies.

It was coming anyway, but I gave it a nudge yesterday by announcing that this was going to be their last opportunity to make changes in the script because after the break we go to work on costumes. So here is our cast by the close of business yesterday:

After having tried out being a Duck, then an Apple Tree, Anjali has stuck on Black Kitty. For a long time she had been one of the few hold outs when it came to the radical notion that "all the characters do everything together," but as of yesterday the Black Kitty is mixed up in all the action.

During our discussion about "final decisions," Annabelle proudly announced that she is the only one who hasn't changed her character. From the very beginning she knew she wanted to be a Unicorn Pegasus and she's still a Unicorn Pegasus. She already has the costume at home. She is also one of only 2 independent cast members who do not always join the other characters in their various forays.

Ella amended her Superhero to be a Pink & Purple Striped Superhero. She started as Sleeping Beauty and was the first to switch to Lilac Fairy. When she raised her hand yesterday, I was concerned she was going to change yet again, but she just wanted to confirm that she was "sticking" with Superhero.

Josephine was the original Black Kitty, then joined the mass migration into Lilac Fairy-dom. She missed class last week for a family vacation and I think was a little discombobulated with the sudden dearth of Lilac Fairies. She's going with Pink Superhero, but let us know that she would still wear her Purple Superhero skirt.

Marcus was one of the 3 Mean Black Kitties who had decided enmass to join the Lilac Fairy trend. He definitely wanted to change his character yesterday, but it was clear he hadn't given much thought about what he wanted to change to. On the spot, he went for laughs by saying he was going to be a "Drum." After several "Are you sures?" and "Remember, you won't be able to changes," he decided he was going to be a Car. Last year, Elliott T. was a Race Car: those are fun costumes to make.

Jack broke ranks with the Mean Kitties-turn-Lilac Fairies last week by becoming the Tooth Fairy. He has announced that his older sister Sophie has been losing teeth lately, so I imagine this character is a mighty one around his house these days. He raised his hand to confirm his intention to "stick" with Tooth Fairy.

Luna arrived yesterday wearing a pair of construction paper bunny ears and let us know right from the start of class that she was switching to Bunny. She has been The Girl, a Lamb, and a Lilac Fairy up to this point. The Bunny retains the magical powers to "stop the battle."

For a long time, Katherine was the Big Fairy, holding out against the Lilac Fairy surge, but gave in a couple weeks ago. I think she's happy with her decision to instead join the ranks of superheros, declaring  that she wanted to "stick" with Pink & Purple Superhero.

We were all shocked when Finn P. raised his hand to declare that he was going to switch to being a penguin. I reminded him several times that "after today," he couldn't switch back to Train. Even his friends joined in the effort to persuade him to reconsider. We've all known him for a long time and the idea that he wouldn't be a Train is simply unthinkable. He was determined. He was going to be a penguin. We all knew he would live to regret this decision. In fact, I'd already decided that I was going to be prepared to allow him to switch back in spite of my firm warnings. Finally, after our attention turned to other things, he let us know that he was going to "stick" with Train after all. The announcement caused a small, spontaneous cheer from his friends. Friends don't let train-loving friends be penguins.

From the very start Sarah did not want to choose a role in the play, so as I've done in the past with reluctant performers, she has the important job of Assistant Director, which means the only expectation is that she sit in a chair beside me and "help" when she thinks I need help. I've found this to be a good way to allow stage-wary children to find their own role without pressure. Sarah has been incredible. Not only has she agreed to operate the small robot (which we haven't yet made) who "puts a bathtub on a battle," but she has actually whispered very thoughtful stage direction ideas to me during rehearsals.

Her biggest contribution, however, has been to agree to operate our Maleficent puppet. As is often the case with these plays, no one wanted to play the "bad guy." I'm reluctant to allow adults on stage, but in the past our antagonists have been giant puppets operated by a parent. For instance, a few years ago we made a hippo that ate one of the characters. In our rehearsals, Sarah, via her role as Assistant Director of course, has been performing the role of Maleficent. I'm really proud of her. Yesterday, we made the head of our Maleficent:

For reasons we won't go into here, I have at least a dozen of these styrofoam heads in my basement. We agreed on angry eyebrows (which I drew) and orange eyes. As we emptied our box of party-colored toothpicks onto her head and face, there was a lot of discussion about how frightened the "babies" (several of the kids have younger siblings who will be in the audience) would be, and we agreed that this Maleficent was way scarier than the one on the movie. The idea is that this will be mounted on a headpiece of some sort for Sarah to wear. We will then make special long arms for her to manipulate.

Near the end, the script calls for Maleficent to turn from "bad to good," so we needed to make another head to represent that:

Several of us agreed that we're going to have to give her a smile if she's really going to look "good."

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Unknown said...

What an exciting play this is going to be! I've really enjoyed reading the updates on the play. :) I wish I could be an audience member when the show goes on!

Michelle said...

Wow... Maleficent the Evil is pretty scary!! I am glad Maleficent the Good will make an appearance at the end :) It will be an interesting play and I, too, wish I could be in the audience for this one.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say that I came across your blog yesterday after a search regarding J William Oldenburg. lol. My husband and I met him on a recent trip to San Francisco and I was curious about his background. Your account of meeting him last summer was EXACTLY the same as ours on Monday down to the gold stamp pen. He even mentioned that he had bought the company that makes this pen. We were pretty sure his claim of being the former owner of the LA Express was valid but wasn't sure how much more was true. He said he had lost his fortune in a savings and loan scandal but failed to say that he was behind the transaction. lol. He wants to meet us out for dinner next week since he's going to be in Scottsdale for business. I think we'll pass or we'll most likely end up footing the bill. :) Trish K.

Launa Hall said...

"Friends don't let train-loving friends be penguins." Tom, you crack me up. I'm pretty frustrated with my licensing program right now, and reading this account reminded me that it's all going to be worth it when I'm done and back in a classroom with real kids. Thanks for the pick-me-up.

Deborah Stewart said...

I have to repeat this too "Friends don't let train-loving friends be penguins." So funny Launa and I both honed in on the same sentence but this is priceless:)

That head is horr.. great!

Unknown said...

I love that line, too! Isn't it funny how well our little friends know each other--they always seem to know the "real" kid! (I wish they had that insight later in middle and high school!)

The evil Maleficent is quite scary, even for me! Toothpicks, yikes!

I hope you will videotape the play when you do it. We'd love to see it. I love that you allow them to have such creative license. They are blessed to have you in charge of their play. I wish you could have directed some of my daughters' school plays! Break a leg!

Launa Hall said...

Great minds think alike, Deborah! :)

Unknown said...

I love that no one wanted to let him be a penguin : ) That is so cute. Your heads are interesting indeed. : ) Can't wait to hear the outcome. Whatever it is, I know it will be fabulous!

Chloe said...

Friends don't let train-loving friends be penguins i love this im writing out and putting it on my fridge to make me giggle whenever i need to!