What happens when you let thirty kids, aged nine to twelve, perform a 412-year-old play with only nine hours of practice? Our audience learned exactly what happened last week when our SBCA Drama Team performed William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. (And in case you are wondering, it was grand!) The Tempest tells the tale of forgiveness, love, freedom and true wonder and awe of all that is good. There is a lasting quality to these themes that young and old alike are drawn to. They are fundamental to the virtuous life and thus both draw us in while simultaneously drawing the good from us.
A reflection from Co-director Mrs. Jane Bleakley, Art Teacher:
“The cast’s desire to help each other give their best to this play was seemingly automatic. Everyone wanted to achieve the same goal: to please their audience. They wanted to impress friends and family with their bravery to be on stage, dressed in costume, supplying emotion and gesture for lines written long ago. During our rehearsals, they ran over, asking questions about props, timing, and sound effects. They suggested different ways to deliver lines or place characters on stage. ‘Can I have a sword?’ was a common request. They concentrated on details like setting up chess pieces for Miranda and Ferdinand, adding a mustache to someone’s face, or where to aim the lightning from the flashlight. Every actor and stagehand wanted to be a vital part of the show. This busy, talented crew craved the magic of a script coming together for one beautiful presentation. It was magnificent.
Memorizing lines is something I find challenging. I admire their courage in taking on the work. They showed up for rehearsal each week eager and determined. They encouraged each other and laughed a lot. I’m impressed by their joyful desire to work this hard for a very brief performance. As I write this, I think about the Christmas season and all the extra efforts made for fabulous family get-togethers. Putting on a play is like preparing a grand feast: one selects tried and true recipes, combines the richest ingredients, stirs, bakes, and cooks. We carry in extra chairs, and the time comes to set the decorated table, light candles, and gather people you love together to pray and partake in this rare banquet of delights.”
A reflection from Co-director Ms. Katharine Simia, Grade 3 Teacher:
“I remember, as a young girl, when I performed my first role in a Shakespeare play. We were presenting A Comedy of Errors. There was such profound joy watching the process unfold. I remember the excitement as we progressed from reading the play as a cast, to acting on stage, to the final dress rehearsal, and, ultimately, to the big night in front of our first audience. I witnessed this movement from beginning to end but always felt as though something greater was at work than the contribution of any one cast member. It was our shared love for the story that led to our triumphant moment on stage. The fact that mere words on a page could make an audience laugh or cry was exhilarating to me. There was a depth in these precious moments; as a cast, we were revealing lasting truths about life.
There are times when I experience the same sense of awe as a teacher. The lesson presented is the play, the teacher is the director, and the class is the audience. Our goal in the classroom is to discover truth, and the story, or in this case the lesson, assists the student through the direction of the teacher in seeing what is True, Good, and Beautiful. It is not enough to merely know the truth but to also live it. As a teacher, I must present the truth and demonstrate through my own words and actions why these goods are most desirable.
I believe the most effective teachers teach through the art of storytelling. Children more readily remember stories and recall what is good in them. Of course, the greatest story ever told – and lived – is the story of salvation. As we approach this Christmas season, I encourage you all to see this story that is before our eyes with child-like wonder – a story where the Son of God dwelt among us as an infant in a manger to save us from our sins and show us the way to His heavenly kingdom. The wonder I saw in the eyes of my students when we performed our play last week is a moment I will always cherish. May God bless you this Advent season and pour the grace and blessings of Christmas upon your families!”
AUTHORS: Jane Bleakley, Art Teacher, & Katharine Simia, Third Grade Teacher