Why Class Plays?
The class play gives a teacher many chances to build the social strength in the class. It often also reinforces aspects of the curriculum. It changes the routine in a stimulating, artistic way that provides relief from the steady rhythm of the days and weeks and months of the school year. This relief returns when the regular rhythm returns and the class feels the ordinary soothing events of life replace the dynamic and artistic tension of preparing a play and performing it.
They are aids to the class teacher in developing skill and capacity in students, strengthening the sense of interdependence in the whole class, and brightening the creativity of the class through drama. The teacher decides on the play and the casting. Often an unlikely candidate for a lead part in a play or an obvious leader for a small part can surprise everyone – unlikely roles to all but the teacher! The teacher might be looking to stretch a child’s ability.
The ultimate satisfaction of a class in its play is the successful immersion into the characters and the story of a play. Once the play is performed, the audience’s comprehension of the story, the laughter and tears the performers feel for one scene or another, or from the audience, are like icing on a well-baked cake.
Children do learn to depend on each other in a new way from the ordinary, and students do change after deeply entering into a character unlike their own. Students find new voices in themselves, new motivations, new friends, a new appreciation for each other through interaction on stage. Sacrifice is needed for a good play: the sacrifice of one’s personality for another, sacrifice of preference for the good of the play, sacrifice of friends to interact with unlikely companions for the play, sacrifice of many preferences for the sake of a good play. And the sacrifice of repeated rehearsal might be the biggest sacrifice of all!
In the end, a class play is a lot of fun and excitement; the rewards of many weeks of hard work. Unlike other arts, it is such a social art and is shared socially with the whole community. Live theatre is always thrilling. Many is the time that class teachers instruct, “Whatever happens, remember who your character is and respond in that character, no matter what!” It brings lessons for life with these facts. It isn’t so much what happens — things will always happen — it’s how we respond that makes the story so compelling! So, practice for the play begets practice for life, a gift well beyond a performance or two!
This term the Class Twos performed their play ‘Anansi and the Sky God’ for the primary school children and for their families. It is always a busy and spirited exercise putting together a play, learning all the lines, and of course the most exciting part for the children – dressing up in the costumes! The children were delightfully dazzling in their roles and immersed themselves in their characters with ease, from Onini, the Great Python, snaking around the room, to Mboro, the Hornets with stings like fire, each child brought their gestures and voices to a truly African tale.
Bonnie Webb, Class 2 teacher