Don’t get me wrong – I very much enjoy my job as a principal – the main source of satisfaction being working with students through classroom teaching, beyond the classroom program, choir, roadrunners, etc….(I guess the NON administrative stuff!). At the same time, as I’ve said many times before, there is something so alive and so electric about live theatre. It constantly gives me pause for thought and inspiration for discussion. That’s exactly how I felt at the end of YPT’s Munschtime.
Full disclosure – I went into Munschtime not expecting much. After all, it was a play for which we were taking our JK-Gr. 2 students. How motivational or inspirational could it be? Our Gr. 5/6 class was there as well but that’s only because they were involved in the voice overs as part of our Beyond the Classroom work. That was one of the many neat experiences from seeing the play. Hearing the student voice overs gave instant connection which is always one of the drawing cards of any story. Another connection came from having had the experience in the Beyond the Classroom program to see a rehearsal in action. Getting to see the rehearsed scene in polished form was fantastic – and interesting to note that there were not many changes from the rehearsed to the final with the exception of costuming and being off book for the script.
While it was the Beyond the Classroom experience that gave an entry point for the play to me, it was as always, the story line, acting, set and direction that served as the inspiration. Munschtime for those who haven’t seen the play before, takes 5 Robert Munsch stories and adapts them into mini scenes in a play centred around a girl who does not want to go to sleep; so her grandparents tell her 5 different stories. Each one left me with a great big idea and thought on which to reflect.
Pigs – With apologies to the gifted designation in education, we are all gifted in our own way and whether that comes from academic success, hands on learning, or people skills, intelligence can be found in many places and in many ways. Yeah that’s right, I’m pushing back for the sake of the “dumb pigs”!
A Promise is a promise – When we live by inflexible rules and leave no room for discussion, we compromise our ability to adapt. The tables get turned in this story in a very creative twist at the end – I won’t spoil it. Go see the play! And yes, it remains true that living up to our promises is a sign of honour. In that world of connections, I read a great quote the other day by C.S. Lewis “Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching.” I think the Promise is a Promise scene may have been my favourite mini scene. The power of the acting, the voice overs, suspension of disbelief and raw emotion all brought the scene so alive.
Too much stuff – likely the funniest of the 5 scenes to me and a great dichotomy to the intensity of a Promise is a Promise. And even with the humour, a powerful message was woven throughout – simple acts of kindness to others always leave an impact. The final scene in this vignette confirms the earlier point. And while we live in a world where gratitude is often not modeled, this scene surely empowered that virtue.
Murmel, Murmel – This was the scene we saw practised while at YPT for the Beyond the Classroom program and while not a lot changed from rehearsal to final production, the addition of costuming, audio voice overs and props helped to polish the scene to perfection. The big idea left on me was that while many of us are continually searching for meaning in life, the answer to what we need is often out there, as the truck driver finds at the end of this scene.
Love you forever – for those familiar with the story, yes it will cause you to shed a tear or two throughout. It was portrayed with humour and emotion (as any good drama scene does) and left me thinking as I often do about the passage of time and overwhelming importance of the relationships we form with others.
The combination of big ideas along with the power of music; innovative set; stellar acting based on energy, power of voice and character plausibility; creative sound; and solid directing made Munschtime yet another exccellent YPT play, and of course lead me to wonder how to get our students reflecting in the same way that I had. With that in mind, a reflection sheet was developed to give students the opportunity to provide feedback. A few samples are below:
Congrats YPT on another job well done. Sign of a good play is when you leave not just inspired, but inspired to return, and with that in mind, I think I just found an experiential activity for my wife (and kids) on Mother’s Day! Don’t worry, I won’t ask my wife to fill out the reflection after the play, but over dinner, some good conversation inspired by an excellent play is sure to follow!