Monday, August 9, 2010

Where's Barney?



When I chose "Macbeth" as this year's production for The Shakespeare Club, I met with our school principal for her recommendation on age-appropriateness for the audience.

"Obviously, we're using an adapted script and the bloody hands are little red gloves with red ribbons attached, but even so...what do you think about the kinders seeing this?"

"Mel, it's 'Macbeth,' not 'Halloween.' It's Shakespeare. They'll be fine."

And she was correct. The kids had been prepped by their teachers on the basics of the plot. Some had conversations about ambition, turning on a best friend or what might go into a magical potion.

One mother expressed an idea: "I think you should use more props. The kids need more things to look at."

Another chimed in. "I don't agree. I like the simplicity of the production and how it focuses on the language and story."

I contemplated these two points of view because each was valid and each mother was concerned about her child's experience.

My conclusion, given we're all on the superhighway of sound and imagery: It can be a challenge to slow down to iambic verse whatever age we are, but slowing down can be its own unique adventure.

I also think it's worth noticing what children notice, what draws them in and what sparks their imaginations. Hands down, I think kids are fascinated by other kids.

Watch them as they're wheeled around a mall or the walkways of a zoo. As moms and dads point out the seals and tigers, the toddlers stare at other toddlers.

I watch the faces of the kindergarteners and first-graders when we do our shows. Whether they're into the plot or language is irrelevant, because they're gripped by seeing versions of themselves on stage.

They tilt their small faces up and see other children, in light and on fire with power. Maybe better than Elmo.


CHILDREN'S WRITES: A Journal Entry
What does it mean to be a best-friend?

1. If your best friend is doing something wrong...
you should gently tell "Thats not ok. It could be dandres."

2. If your bff is sad you should cheer them up.

P.S. You should look after them
Millie, 3rd grade

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