The Orlando Rep has offered these great workshops on Wednesday in conjunction with Orange County Public Schools, for teachers to resee writing possibilities by the use of theatre, tableau, portraits, comic strips etc. These are sponsored by the Kennedy Center. This particular workshop was presented by Mary Hall Surface , a playwright who came down from DC.
Mary Hall took us through strategies on how to guide students to reinvent an old tale (Little Miss Muffet) into a personal theatrical interpretation. In turn as teachers we would be able to guide our students into new ways of creating a unique literary perspective. This is very different than dry writing prompts, abstract character analysis, etc Students recognize structure (beginning, middle, end) and become accountable for breathing new life into old entities.
We developed characters as a group and then gave them life with a quick improv, which Mary Hall considers a first draft. We had to discover a problem and then how we resolved it. We had to clearly come up with a beginning, middle and end. Each group devised a totally different interpretation.
My group, Muffet 1 (not here as a video), presented Ms. Muffet as a shady lady who had kidnapped Curds N. Whey. She was aided by her henchman, Tuffet (me). But along comes a Spider(man) who frightens Muffet, using Net to allow the release of Miss Whey. A very goofy, but interesting concept, as Muffet becomes the antagonist. The problem being how will Whey get away from Muffet.
The characterization for Muffet 2 created several new characters and used as a problem how Mom and Muffet would get to where they were going. So each presentation allows for its own interpretation which eventually promotes a writing component.
Teachers get excited over this because it is a new tool, using theater which allows kids to get up on their feet and perform, regroup and rethink outside the standard box. There is a lot of room for critical thinking and discussion. There is synthesis, analysis and application all going on at once, as anyone in the arts can recognize.
This was the final workshop for the season of 2016-17. These workshops because of their nature make teachers rethink writing, using the performing and visual arts as a way of getting students to bridge writing and action. This is the third workshop of four this season, I have attended. The workshops are always pertinent to getting kids to write, but also to get kids to take on broader perspectives.
Teachers find fresh approaches to working with students. We have had many classroom teachers, but many ESE teachers as well, who find this approach liberating for students who may need to explore success a different way. I thank the Kennedy Center and the Orlando Rep; all presenters this season; and Ashley Spero and Scott Evans from Orange County Public Schools. These workshop events offer us fresh approaches to being successful with our students.