Many schools applaud the concept of drama or musical productions and then relegate the activity as extra-curricula.
Village School believes that the whole school performance is an integral part of the curriculum that combines various key learning areas in a highly satisfying, holistic and meaningful experience.
The Whole School Performance means just that – every child, from preps to year 6 is on stage.
Over the years Village School has performed;
- "Witches 'R' Us"
- "The Source of the Force"
- "The Whizz in a Fizz"
- "All Things Greek"
- "Medieval Madness"
- "Pirates of Penzance"
- "Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat"
- "The Mikado"
- "A Midsummer Night’s Dream"
- "Bugsy Malone"
Whole School Productions – Best Teaching Practice
In alternate years, the performance is partly written by the senior students with the drama teacher, so the process of playwriting is part of the initial experience. The overall plot is brainstormed, characters are chosen and parts negotiated so that the oldest children take main roles but others increase the length of their speaking parts as they progress through the school. Scenes are written in small groups.
The performing arts teacher collates and edits these initial scenes and usually expands them. The children give feedback on the drafts and a whole dramatic script emerges.
The next stage is two-fold. In the individual homegroups the children design and make props for the play. They problem solve how to produce the various props required and often experiencing failures before coming up with successful models. Meanwhile the regular after lunch quiet reading time becomes the time to re-read the script over and memorise lines. Rehearsals happen regularly each week and escalate to almost every day in the two weeks prior to the performance.
Sometimes the children are helped to make their own costumes as well. The year we performed "Bugsy Malone" the year six girls spent a whole term, designing their dresses, making their own patterns and sewing the dresses with the help of a parent. Most years we have parents spending regular time each week in the art room, sewing the costumes.
If a backdrop is required the older children all design an example and the best ideas of each are incorporated onto the final backdrop. The children then paint the backdrop under the guidance of a teacher. Real life maths, art, craft and technology are elements practiced when the children design and make their props, as well as their scale designs of backdrops and designs for the cover of the program and occasionally the tickets as well.
When we say Whole School Performance we do mean Whole School! One of our parents is the theatre lighting expert, another does the sound and produces the video and yet another co-ordinates the ‘orchestra’ to accompany the children. We always book a professional theatre in order to give the children the full theatrical experience.
The learning and personal growth experienced in the performance term is double that experienced during the rest of the year. The confidence and self-esteem that the children gain are key factors necessary to experience success in any area of life. But it is the cooperation skills that they develop, as well as a sense of ‘group purpose’ outside their own immediate personal needs and desires that is the real character building factor.
The performance is an integrated learning experience. The richness of the language experience in our plays not only increases vocabulary knowledge and understanding but also flows over into the children’s creative writing. When we studied the nineteenth century we produced "Oliver". During an Egyptian Theme the children and drama teacher produced "Fools of the Nile" – a play combining some elements of Shakespeare’s "Anthony and Cleopatra" and "Julius Caesar" narrated by the Early Egyptian Gods. 2002’s "Mediaeval Madness" explored the customs and practices of the Middle Ages as well as the Crusades, with Richard I and his brother John as main characters, which led to the older children looking at the concept of the Magna Carta as a link into their next term studies on law and order.
The Whole School Performance is a natural flow on from our daily meetings and weekly Whole School Meetings. We focus on empowering the children to speak up in front of others, run meetings for each other and enjoy impromptu entertainments amongst themselves and for the parent body. We believe that performance is a valuable teaching practice; it consolidates knowledge into a meaningful experience that helps the children retain facts that might otherwise be forgotten.
Most of all though, performing is fun! When school is fun, the children are motivated and engaged, and learning becomes an effortless by-product. Children learn best through play, so at Village we believe that … “…the play is the thing!”