Developing More Than Creative Skills
The Mount Vernon School has again partnered with the Missoula Children’s Theater, a nationally touring theater group dedicated to developing life skills in children through participation in the performing arts. This year, 63 students in Grades 1 – 5 brought the beloved tale, The Frog Prince, to life. What makes this performance so special? The entire production: auditions, rehearsal, set construction, and costume fittings unfolded within one school week culminating in two performances on Friday, December 3, and Saturday, December 4.
“Even students that are shy and haven’t yet learned to project their voice auditioned. The Missoula touring artists recognized a spark in those students and offered them leading roles, often taking them out of their comfort zones,” Amanda Lower, Lower School Performing Arts Teacher explained. Starting on the first day of rehearsals, students quickly learned the performing arts learning outcomes. Each student transformed their body and voice into a vital character for collaborative storytelling magic.
This immersive experience offered students the opportunity to build acting skills quickly and precisely, creating a pathway for leaders to emerge. One participant who spread his wings was Grade 3 student Weston E. As this year is his first year at Mount Vernon, he knew it was important to create a bond with the 57 performers, the other three assistant directors, and two tech team members all while doing something he loved. “When I auditioned, I didn’t know there was an Assistant Director role. But when they told me that’s what I was going to do, I was excited. I have a cast on my arm so I didn’t know if I was going to get to be in the play. My favorite part was getting to know a lot of people and learning how to manage them and the set scene changes.” Weston says.
Sometimes the younger students set a high bar for the older ones. Leah C in Grade 1 played a Venus Flytrap among a group of Grade 1 and 2 students. “Our part was really funny. We got to attack the Knights all as a group after someone yelled ‘Get the Knights!’ We went onstage 3 times. I had so much fun I can’t wait to do it again next year.” Leah shared. This group of young students showed their excitement for this opportunity, prompting the older ones to be good role models and take their parts seriously.
Grade 4 student Landon N. has always been an outgoing person. “I played Ollie The Talking Tree. I had eight lines and I was so scared I would forget them. But, I feel like it was the perfect role for me because I was in a lot of scenes and I ended up remembering all of my lines. Actually, we all did a great job remembering our lines,” Landon explained. Even if students didn’t remember their lines, it was important for them to improvise something similar. The Missoula Touring Artists “shared the well” as experts during this week-long residency by teaching improvisation workshops during Grade 3 and Grade 5 performing arts classes.
Many of these students seen on stage will be taking advantage of their sharpened performing skills in the Christmas Arts Showcase on Friday, December 16. Don’t miss this opportunity to watch songs and dances from Mount Vernon’s littlest performers. Check out the Lower School divisional update for show times and volunteer opportunities. Check out more pictures from the event.