—Continuing from last night
While Bottom’s ass, or rather his line containing the word ass was becoming a major sticking point between the teacher and I concerning the Midsummer Night’s Dream script adaptation … the 5th graders were beginning to get VERY interested in just what and who Julius Caesar was going to be and what kind of play this might turn out to be.
This was going to be a first for both classes, before plays had been done in the main auditorium Parker Hall, but these were going to be done with scenery, lights, costumes and above all else ~ programs. Big stuff…as this meant there would need to be rehearsals outside of class and a performance outside of the elementary school quad area and timetable. The dining room (students and staff) , four dormitory staffs (5th-6th grade girls and boys, high school boys, high school girls), staff and administration all wanted their piece of the action and planning.
Parker Hall was the school’s main purpose “rumpus” room – as I like to call it. There were innumerable concerts, recitals, meetings, plays and such. One year in the last four weeks of school there were 18 different events … all of which required several rehearsals, settings, lights, a dress rehearsal and ticketed performance. As most of the seats weren’t numbered and were plastic stackable chairs at that – this entailed a lot of number/row painting on the floor. If you think that politicians have turf wars, just imagine trying to standardize performance seating charts for each of the departments of a school that had been going their merry way for over 150 years. As the saying goes: “It was so not going to happen … in anyone’s lifetime.”
I assembled some props, and the 5th grade students were given their scripts to read. Now, here comes the part where real life intersected with the class room. These students worked not only on their regular school work, which was intense but also time in the day was found to read the script and after the casting was done to learn and rehearse the script. I saw these students once a week for a little over an hour, so much of the work was going to fall on the classroom teachers. Fortunately, this is something they were aware of and welcomed (at first anyway).
I meet with the 5th graders and showed them the cute little paper model of the Globe theater and did my story about what plays would have looked like and sounded like during that time. We laughed over the fact that King Lear and Hamlet take four hours to do the complete script today, but at that time they managed to get through them in a little under 2 hours. (that was my story, and I’m sticking to it!!) I also talked about the children’s troupes that used to perform Shakespeare to highly appreciative audiences and we talked about what that might have been like.
In all honesty, I was not looking forward to a discussion of the play. I was thinking that it was going to be somewhat difficult to explain the over reaching theme(s), the types of people these folks were, etc. I should not have worried … I told them we would start at the first scene and talk about the play. I decided that I would ask a (what I was sure would a rhetorical ) question about the crowd in the first scene. Almost everyone’s hand went up. I chose a smiling young lady who informed me that “The crowd represents just how fickle people can be. They are all excited and thrilled with someone and want them to be everything to them and then just a quickly can turn on them and want them dead ~ or kill them themselves.”
All I could think of was the fact that I had high school students taking my Shakespearean Tragedy class that took a couple of days and a lot of coaxing to figure out that one concept. At that point I knew we were not going to have a single problem figuring out the play.
The next point that had to be dealt with was the fact the 1) there were a large number of girls in the class and 2) there were only two parts for women in the show neither of which was exactly lengthy. I assured them ~ in a moment of total brain failure ~ that they would not only be able to participate in the crowd scene(s) but the battle(s) as well. The look from the teacher will simply be recorded in this space as “the look.”
which may include the story of the bayonets and the battle of the ages