by Deanna Interlicchea, English Teacher
Gwyneth is a little girl with a great big secret, and her reputation hinges on nobody finding out the truth. She can tell absolutely no one—except for maybe just one friend. In no time flat, the entire class is talking about Gwyneth and her terrible truth. What will Gwyneth do once everybody knows that she no ordinary fourth grader, but a genius bound for the seventh grade?
When I purchased Jimmy Brunelle’s children’s play, Eggheads, to read in my Children’s Drama class, I had no idea what it would become. I intended it to merely be a 20-minute in-class reading to serve as a model for their own one-act plays. At the end of the play, though, I heard an energetic chorus of, “we should perform this.” Before I knew it, we had a student director, a costumer, a tech designer, a set manager, a marketing crew, a full cast, and two weeks to pull it all together.
To see all the photos and an informal video of the production, go to the show’s photo album.
At first, it was a flurry of missed lines, unlit scenes, and awkward pauses, but that didn’t last long. As seasoned theatre veterans and first-time actors took the stage together, it was exciting to see my students interact in brand new, creative, and unexpected ways. In order to achieve this common goal, we would have to trust each other, take risks, and support each other. That’s precisely what we did, and after two intense weeks, we were rewarded with the wonderful experience of performing for the Lower School.
Just like the character Gwyneth, who finally learns to embrace the fact that she is an “egghead” with confidence, I have had the pleasure of watching many of my students blossom throughout this process. One student who stands out in this way is Xinxin (Ariel) Wang, who played Gwyneth herself. Despite the fact that she had never performed in a play before, she left all reservation behind and threw herself into her character. She later reflected that this new experience gave her a new sense of self-awareness. In our interview, she astutely observed that, “on stage, you have to be aware of every action,” and that “you have to think about how you are communicating with the audience but also with the actor next to you.” She and I both think that this theatre experience has helped to make her “more outgoing” in her daily life.
Bobby Shearer, a true veteran of the stage, continued on the value of theatre in our curriculum stating that,“having theatre part of your life helps you make a lot of friends because you’re in an environment where everybody is really accepting. Everybody is trying to do their best and is pushing you to do your best, so you end up making a lot of really, really good friends.”
When we decided to perform this play, we thought that the messages of friendship and self-acceptance would be great for our Lower School audience. What we didn’t realize was that, by having the opportunity to incorporate theatre into the everyday lives of our students, we would inadvertently be living out exactly what Eggheads preaches. This is an experience that has bound us all in friendship and made us all just a little more accepting of ourselves and each other. And that is the true magic of theatre.
Deanna InterlicchiaDeanna graduated from St. John Fisher College with a bachelor's degree in Adolescent English Education and went on to get her master's degree from SUNY Brockport in English Literature. She joined Allendale Columbia in 2007 from Freddie Thomas Learning Center where she student taught, and Canandaigua Middle School before that.
Posted in: Authentic Learning, Eleventh Grade, Highlights, Ninth Grade, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School