When grade 4 students stepped onto the Barstow stage as part of the new lower school theatre program this week, they received three instructions.
Be an ensemble.
By the end of the workshop, they’d accomplished all three.
“Lower school theatre is an enhancement to these students’ education, “ Director of Theatre Bob Kohler said. “It teaches problem solving, it teaches them to work together and support each other. It gives them the freedom to play.”
Bringing “The Jungle Book” to Barstow
During the workshops, students are playing to the soundtrack of “The Jungle Book,” the lower school musical that will be produced at Barstow this spring.
The students clearly know the story. Sitting cross-legged in a circle on the stage, they answered Mr. Kohler’s questions with enthusiasm. They knew the protagonist, Mowgli, the villain, Shere Khan, and the varied cast of characters that include Baloo, Kaa and King Louie.
Wednesday’s lesson focused on the monkeys who provide much of the musical’s comic relief. Led by Mr. Kohler, students learned the monkeys’ movements and choreography set to the song, “I Wan’na Be Like You.”
After the arm swinging, foot stomping and tail twirling ended, Mr. Kohler asked students to review their performance.
“It was awesome,” several students shouted. “We were great!”
“Can anyone tell me why the songs are important to the story in a musical?” he asked.
“We’re acting like monkeys for the audience,” one student answered. “We’re showing, not telling,” said another.
Setting the Stage for New Experiences
Theatre gives students a new way to express themselves, Kohler said. It allows them to explore new things and to say yes to new experiences. That’s one of the reasons theatre is now part of the lower school curriculum.
In the coming months, each lower school class will participate in workshops that introduce theatre concepts including choreography, acting and dialogue.
Based on the students’ reaction after the first workshop, they’re ready for more.
“I like it so much,” Jackson Williams said as he lined up to return to Mrs. Cooper’s classroom. “I don’t usually do stuff like that, but this was so fun!”
He and his classmates agreed on three things:
They had fun.
They were safe.
And they worked together—an ensemble.