Saturday, May 01, 2010

Pre-K Play: "A Beautiful Nightmare"

This is the title the Pre-K kids have selected for their play, which they've been working on since January. We went through an elaborate process of nominating ideas, then voting on them. In years past, classes have generally elected to entitle their production by combining all of the nominations in one long string, in a bid to make everyone happy. This year's class chose A Beautiful Nightmare, Sarah's suggestion. We wound up using a process of elimination voting style, in which the nominations with zero votes were  tossed out as we continued to vote for the ones that received at least one vote in the prior round. It was interesting to watch opinions and allegiances shift as we went through this process of out-in-the-open voting. After watching this, I'm not entirely sure I'm still a fan of the secret ballot.

This group made an artistic decision rather than a social one. I'm really quite blown away by that. When left to their own devices, I've found that if you eliminate the possibility of might making right, children tend to make group decisions by trying to please everyone. For instance, when the topic is what color to paint something, it usually winds up being "rainbow." This decision was not like that. They listened to each other plead their cases. One by one the children quit voting for just their own ideas and decided, in the interest of all of us, to chose the second best idea. Favorites were argued for and once we were down to the finalists I believe the children made a provocative artistic decision instead of a cop-out feel good one. Yes!

This Pre-K class has kept me on my heels all year with their hive-mindedness. At one point nearly the entire cast of the play were Lilac Fairies, the boys included. Who's ever heard of that? Seriously. As a teacher-coach I can't help but feel quite proud of my team this season.

I haven't posted a play update for some time (previous posts in order of appearance are here, here, here, here, and here). This is where we stand with 4 rehearsals to go.

A Beautiful Nightmare

A merry-go-round with horses on it.

Assistant Director Sarah, who did not want to be in the play will 
walk up on stage and spin this altered sit-n-spin.

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

This will be our back drop. Sarah's mom Lisa outlined the buildings after
the kids made the ill-advised decision to paint blue buildings against a
blue sky. Group painting is a very challenging thing. I'm proud of the 
children for this artwork that we worked on over the course of 3 weeks.

A Black Kitty (Anjali) waddles in. 

A real Unicorn Pegasus. (Annabelle)

A Pink & Purple Striped Superhero. (Ella)

A Pink & Purple Superhero Josephine.

Then a Car (Marcus), a Forklift (Thomas), and the Tooth Fairy (Jack) come up.

Then the Bunny (Luna) comes.

Then the Pink & Purple Superhero Katherine comes.

Then the Train (Finn P.) comes and all the Superheros, the Tooth Fairy, the Car, The Bunny, The Black Kitty, and the Forklift go on the Train and they all go around the audience.

Then all the characters scare away Maleficent.

We've glue gunned this onto a bicycle helmet which Sarah, in 
her role as assistant director, will wear. We have made arms
for Maleficent from PVC pipe, scarves, and ski gloves. To
make things clear, this is not a costume, it's a puppet being
operated by our assistant director who did not want to be in
the play.

All the characters come and put fairy dust on the audience to wake them up. (Gold glitter.)

Then all the characters except the Unicorn Pegasus and the Bunny get in a battle. The Bunny stops the battle with magic.

And then the characters come and sprinkle fairy dust (more gold glitter) onto the White Pegasus. Then the Unicorn Pegasus flies away. Then all the other characters go around the audience.

Then the really, really big rainbow nutcracker comes.

This photo really doesn't do it justice,
and we haven't worked on the face,
hands and feet yet, but it's taking 
shape according to our plan.

Then so the nutcracker grows to its own size. Then the characters come and play with their toy nutcrackers.

This are not very theatrical, but the kids love them. The bad 
part is that they each want their own while on stage, which 
means the audience will have to wait until they each 
fish their own nutcracker from a basket. Oh well.

Then the nutcracker and all the characters except the Bunny and the Unicorn Pegasus 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. (We still don't have a bathtub. Thomas believes that his family has the perfect box at home.)

This robot, I believe, is a preschool masterpiece

We used one of our scooters as a base, selected the FedEx
box for a body, and the strange object for the head. We
took apart a large fan for the propeller. It's pretty sweet. Sarah,
who is assistant director because she didn't want to be in the
play, will wheel this out.

There is a fire . . .

This is orange, yellow and red tissue paper taped to a fan, but I'm hoping
to scrounge up some cellophane instead. The kids are not satisfied with this.

. . . and all the characters put it out.

Everyone goes in the pool.

This is our failed first attempt at making a giant rainbow nutcracker. We are now 
using it as our pool.

Then the ice age comes and the Unicorn Pegasus timbers down a whole bunch of ice (large foam blocks) and everyone waddles away as fast as they can. 

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

Everybody fell into everybody and they punch each other. Then they punched the blue tree.

I suggested that we paint the trunk blue, but
that idea was rejected out of hand: "Trunks
aren't blue Teacher Tom, just leaves."

Then they punched a rocket.

Inspired by our recent pendulum play, I think, we're
going to try to hang this from the ceiling and take
turns punching it. Luna did most of the work on this
and has tested out its punch-ability.

Then everyone 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.

Everyone slips and slides.

Everyone goes into a beautiful castle with pretty walls painted pink.

We settled on a very pale pink indeed.

And then everyone dives into a pool.

We're getting a lot of milage out of our failure!

Then Maleficent puts everyone to sleep. Shhhhhh!

And then Maleficent changes from bad to good

This is going to be a challenging "costume change" because assistant
director Sarah, who did not want to be in the play, is going to be
wearing this "puppet" as well.

Maleficent wakes everyone up.

Then everyone flies on top of the Train. Then they land right next to the Train. And they ride the Train. While they are on the Train, they are watching TV on him. (The kids follow Finn around the audience, all of them using their own imaginary remotes!)

It's night time and there is stars . . .

We made these by wrapping small squares of tissue paper
around the ends of pencils, dipping them in glue and
carefully sticking them on tag board stars. Right now the
plan is to each hold up our own stars using the craft stick 
handles, but I'm going to suggest we hang them on string 
from a broom handle and let a parent dangle them overhead 
from "backstage."

And the moon.

We've decided that we're all just going to point at the moon that Julian's
mom painted on our gym wall many years ago.

Everyone stays up in the night. There's gonna be Maleficent. She'll just close her eyes and bonk her head.


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Play for Life said...

Okay Tom, let me start by saying, I can finally see what the "robot with the ghost inside it" actually is, now that its the head of your "masterpeice"!

Secondly, I'm betting Sarah "who did not want to be in the play" is wishing she had just volunteered to frock up as a lilac fairy and be done with it!

AND thirdly ... I reckon you're kids must think this is pretty terrific!

Oh did I type THIS ... I meant YOU!
Donna :) :)

julie howe gwinn said...

Love it! It gets more elaborate every year! I guess there is no limit to their's where we end up stopping it. What a wonderful thing to be able to LET IT FLOW with adults that allow it to keep going. AWESOME!

Teacher Tom said...

@Donna . . . Thank you! In many ways Sarah has turned out the be the creative force behind this year's play in spite of her stated reluctance to participate. And what a coincidence that Julie commented just below you. Her son pioneered the assistant director role last year!

@Julie . . . You're right! Sometimes we have to just get out of their way and jog along to keep up!

Let the Children Play said...

Bravo, bravo, encore, encore!

I've got to confess that spiky headed dude really freaks me out.

Your robot is a masterpiece, thats for sure. I would love to be able to be at your preschool one day when you guys are all creating.

And finally, they way you wrote your post I felt like I was really there watching "Beautiful Nightmare".

Unknown said...

Tom, I don't know what I like best! I am so impressed with their creativity. :)

And by the way, the robot is fabulous!!!!

Anonymous said...

I would pay good money to attend that play.

Deborah Stewart said...

Oh Wow - these props and backdrops are blowing me away. I love the bad to good magnificent. And I can't wait to see the completed castle. This is quite a complex play - I have never seen anything like the process you all have gone through! I don't think I would have been able to keep it all straight yet alone actually see it through to completion.

Eternal Lizdom said...

Bloody BRILLIANT! I love this!!!

For your fire- rig up a lightbulb underneath it. The fan blades will make it appear like the light of a fire, potentially.

I certainly hope there will be a video of the grand event!

Super Karen said...

This is beyond adorable!

Scott said...

Fantastic! That robot is truly a masterpiece - but all the puppets, backdrops, and props are great.

"Beautiful Nightmare" is the perfect title.

Launa Hall said...

Love every word and prop, Tom! During the play itself, do you narrate?

Teacher Tom said...

@Launa . . . Yes, I read the script as narrator. I've added stage direction to their script. I've found it really helps them remember what they're supposed to be doing when they actually find themselves in front of an audience, which will probably include 50+ people in our tiny gym.

(V.Kerr) School Time Adventures said...

I have been in an off mood this evening but reading this narration with all the pics is so terrific, I started to laugh. Anyone who works with small children should be able to see all the creative beauty in this production. I really love the robot!