On Thursday, March 4th, the BUGS After-School Program was finally able to premiere Edie, the Dancing Crab for the annual Winter Expo at Johnston Square Elementary. We had one snow storm, a conference and the threat of another snow storm that kept pushing the performance date back week after week. But we prevailed!!!
During the weeks preparing for this performance, the students learned about the theatre. They were introduced to Sidney Poitier and Dorothy Dandridge both of whom got there start in the theatre, went on to get nominated for Academy Awards and while Sidney Poitier also won, Dorothy Dandridge was the first African-American woman to be nominated for the award. We played theatre games like Grocery Store where students had to yell out items that could be purchased at a grocery store while running to the wall and touching the imaginary item. There was a game that I created called a Day at the Theatre. Students answered a set of 10 questions that pertained to the previous days' lesson about the theatre. For each one of the questions answered correctly, they were able to obtain that number of tosses. The bean bag had to land in the circle of a particular part of the stage that had a point equivalent. Center Stage had 20 pts while Stage Right would have 10 pts and so on. Once the points were accumulated, the top three scorers would get a prize.
At the start of the Theatre Cycle, I went around to each one of the groups to inform them of the production and that auditions will be held. Students interested in auditioning took a small monologue, had to memorize it and then audition a few days later for a role in the play. Once the actors were chosen, we had a read-thru of the final version of the play with the cast members. Then we went into rehearsals. I rehearsed with the kids on Fridays and non-after-school days to let them know the magnitude of what they were doing and the responsibility that it entailed. They all handled the responsibility with grace. They had to memorize their lines, learn their blocking, learn how to better articulate, pronounce and enunciate their words and project their voices.
Ms. Rachel, the Art Teacher, was able to get all of the students in our program involved with the set pieces, the costumes and props. Our students had to learn and be made aware that there are so many aspects to the theatre. Everyone isn't an actor, actress or director but from the costume designer, makeup artist, set makers, painters and musicians all play a role in making the show successful. The Younger Boys played the introduction and ending show music. They came up with the music and its rhythms on their own. They were great!
It's the day of the show. We had a full house of parents, siblings, relatives and friends. They were all there to be supportive, encouraging and see what the kids had done. Ms. Heather, our director, made a few announcements. I followed with a few words then introduced the play. The Younger Boys began and the audience was silent. Once the music ended, Edie's mother spoke and the play was off and running. The audience smiled, laughed, listened and then loudly and thunderously applauded as each child took their bows. I gave each one of the actors a flower which they were very proud to get. Parents were pleased and grateful. Ms. Rachel's friend, Rachel, who is a photographer took some great photos of our students in their full costumes before and after the show.
Edie, the Dancing Crab is a play that was originally a puppet show, expanded into a children's play, performed this past summer at the Enoch Pratt Orleans Branch Library. Edie, the Dancing Crab is a play about how each person has their own way to dance regardless of who they are. They must simply find their own way to dance and embrace it!