Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Pre-K Play: The Video

Yesterday I shared the script of our Pre-K play with you, along with photos of most of the props and set pieces we made. Today I present the video of the performance in two parts.

Each January, I challenge my Pre-K class to do something for the whole school. My first year's class decided we needed a birthday throne, but ever since then we've put on a play.

Our first writing session takes place on the blue rug during a circle time, then in subsequent weeks moves to our "journals" station, where the kids can add to the play as the inspiration moves them. Typically, the kids start by deciding what characters they're going to play. This is a moving target for the first couple months, as some of the kids change their minds each week. The same goes for the rest of the script. We may call it "finished" in late February or early March when we begin rehearsing, but that's just a starting point as each week we continue "writing" from the stage as we experience the reality of what we will be presenting to the audience. It's not really until right around spring break in early April that we declare "no more changes," although even that isn't a hard and fast rule.

In the meantime, we're making props and sets. I try to integrate them into our "art," "puzzles," or "math" stations until by the last few weeks of school when just about our entire curriculum is given over to getting ready for the play.

This play that we entitled The Goo Goo Gaa Gaas Vs. The Goo Goo Gaa started as a much more violent piece with very little humor. There were, in fact, no Goo Goos of either the Gaa Gaa or simply Gaa variety at all. There were quite a few superheros and various bad guys, who did a lot of fighting and killing, until one blue rug session when we discussed who would be in the audience and decided that all that bloodshed might be a little much for the "babies" (younger siblings) and grandmas. That's when several of the guys decided to mix in some comedy, accomplished quite nicely, I think, by becoming Goo Goo Gaa Gaas, an immediate infusion of humor, along with several episodes of throwing things at the audience (wads of paper, puff balls and styrofoam treasure). They insisted on keeping the big death scene, but still, in deference to the perceived sensitivities of the audience, The Bad Guy Flying Monster as played by Max, gives the audience a sly look as I (the narrator) say: "The Monster is dead . . . or is he?"

If you dropped by to watch any of our rehearsals, right up until the dress rehearsal the day before the real thing, you'd probably think it was a mess. Seriously. Ask any of our three parent-teachers who work with me on the Pre-K day. It's always a mess, every year, with kids diverting into their own conversations and games, tears, arguments, and rough-housing. I swear, with this year's class of 9 boys, there was rarely a moment during rehearsals when at least a couple of them weren't wrestling in the background, apparently completely oblivious to what is going on with the rest of their friends.

But we keep plugging along, week after week, month after month, repeating the story we are telling together over and over until it becomes a part of us. By the time the audience assembles, we know this story, this piece of literature, inside and out. Every nuance and wrinkle having been a matter for discussion and debate, every word and phrase so full of real meaning that they're about to burst. I think that's why when the stage lights come on, our Pre-K classes always peak at just the right moment and give a flawless performance.

I'm so proud of these guys who you will see here playing their roles as characters they've invented, telling a story that belongs to them.

The Cast

Goo Goo Gaa Gaa Puncher Lachlan -- Lachlan
Bad Guy Mummy -- Charlie B.
Invisible Bad Guy Flying Monster -- Isak
Puncher -- Charlie L.
Viking -- Orlando
Goo Goo Gaa Gaa -- Ariya
Dump Truck Star Wars Ship Clone Trooper -- Peter
Sticky Goo Goo Gaa -- Dennis
Bad Guy Flying Monster -- Max

I'll also point out the three parent-teachers -- Isak's mom Leslie, Orlando's mom Valerie, and Lachlan's mom Kimberly -- who work so seamlessly in their supporting roles. If you knew nothing about how a cooperative works, I think seeing this would give you a good idea. This is just an on-tape example of how these three women worked together all year long.

And now our school year is over. These 9 boys who have told stories together, played together, fought together, laughed together, and grown up together are ready for their next adventures. "Let's have swords!" they say.


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HeidiSongs said...

Teacher Tom,
You're a wonderful teacher, and those kids are incredibly lucky to have you!!! You are the perfect PreK teacher! (I think you are a little nutty, too! And I mean that in the best possible way!)
Heidi Butkus
Fellow Nut

Courtney Kay said...

awesome! I love it!

Mrs. Karen said...

I want to work with you! I absolutely love the play! I know the children are proud, they should be, it was amazing. GREAT JOB everyone! Now, enjoy your summer.

Marla McLean, Atelierista said...

You gave voice to play. It strikes me that this clip presents as" The Prose of Authentic Play." (All you need is some live jazz music, lol) You gave such respect to these 9 boy's voices. I see your patience and belief in children. What a gift.
Now go sit on the top step. And smile.

Teacher Tom said...

@Marla . . . I wondered if anyone would mention the sitting on the top step business. It's a convention I developed a few years ago to clear the stage periodically so the audience can see what's going on. Otherwise they just mill around bumping into each other!

C.B.M said...

Congratulations! What an amazing play. It gives light to the abilities and imaginations that abound in young children. Also, this shows just how important Educators and families are to a childs development!
Keep up the Awsomeness!!!
Caroline, RECE

Chesterbrook Academy Elementary said...

What an amazing blog.
The emphasis on child development is very impressive.
I love the artwork.