Monday, May 5, 2014

Always an Adventure: Dramarama, Spring 2014

Today was the last Dramarama class for the 2013-2014 school year. In the fall, I teach playwriting for third-fifth graders, then acting exploration for fourth- and fifth-graders. In the spring, it's acting exploration for second- and third-graders... then kindergarten and first.
After-school classes are this weird Twilight Zone area for students: They're out of school, but they're not out of school. So teaching an after-school arts class - which is pretty much guaranteed to be full of imaginative, energetic kids - can be just that much more exhausting. Teaching an after-school arts class to kindergartners in the Twilight Zone... Jeez. I can barely have a coherent conversation afterward.
I do love arts education, and I am deeply convinced of its value and necessity. But it ain't always easy.
This year's second-third grade class was called Monster Hunters. Every week, we "traveled" to The Island of Forgotten Monsters - which we figured out, as a group, how to get there (it involved a portal). We were given hints by the "monster" who lived in the classroom, which the class was able to draw, one line at a time, and learn the name of, one letter at a time, as the marker was passed from student to student, until everyone decided the tasks were complete. As it turned out, this monster's name was Paqufcezam, but we called it "Paq," and when it started leaving letters for us, outlining the day's adventure, this class decided to write back.
Reading a letter from Paq. I love this picture.
This Monster Hunters class is a version of what's called "process drama," in which the instructor essentially sets up parameters, and then lets the class take over the group storytelling. It's fun, because, as the instructor, I have no idea what each class will bring. It's tiring because, as the instructor, there is no way I can prepare. Also, I have to keep my eye on the clock so we dismiss on time, and that's a challenge when I have to work "returning to the classroom" into the story.
But it's totally worth it.
What wonderful goofballs.
So today was the last session of K-first's six-week Acting Safari class. It's also a process drama class, in which we mysteriously receive an envelope each week, informing us of Where, and When, we'll be traveling. The first class is spent creating the mode of transportation, which can travel through space AND time. This class decided to build a vehicle, complete with a kitchen and bunk beds, that launches off of a roller coaster track and into the air. When we get to where we're going, we can shrink the Where-and-When Machine and make it invisible, so we can carry it with us and don't lose it, which is a really nice feature. (Also, between classes, we can leave it in the room and no one will bother it.) Today, we went to Saturn, in the year 3000. Since 2014, it's changed from a gas giant to having a "robot" surface, so that was handy. Unfortunately, we had to defeat King Darth Vader (once you defeat the King, all the other Darth Vader clones are destroyed), and that took some strategizing. It was decided that some of us would distract King Darth Vader, while the rest of us snuck up behind him to hit the "OFF" button on his light-saber-holding arm. We knew this would work, because once it's switched off, he can't switch it back on, because King Darth Vader's other hand is a spoon. Duh.
Of course, we were victorious.
Because what could possibly go wrong, with this group of adventurers?



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