Summer Theatre: Real-Life Learning in Real Community

11 06 2007

In honor of the Tony awards last night, I hereby announce that Favorite Daughter and Young Son have been cast to spend our unschooling summer in melodic 18th century intrigue!


Young Son gets his head chopped off in Act 1, scene 3-4 but lives to sing another day as another character. He made this freestyle Lego scene yesterday, all the while singing at the top of his lungs, “Sing, swing, savor the sting, as she severs you, Madame GEE-oh-TEEN!”




16 responses

12 06 2007

FYI, I sent a link to this post to a worried Mom this morning. Her 8-year-old (if I remember right) DS was — horrors — pretending to chop off heads after seeing some movie or other. . . normal or is therapy needed. . . I hope she read this and then runs off to buy her kids lots and lots of literature. Even if that includes some scary stories. 🙂


12 06 2007

Young Son is almost 12 (and still loves his stuffed animals and friends, and Santa Claus as a personage, etc) but his love of story is most deliciously gruesome and also classically themed. Pirates for instance — his current favorite break-into-spontaneous song is, “I am the Pirate King, hurrah, hurrah” from Pirates of Penzance.
One of the lines (in his very proper British accent of course) is “I sally forth to seek my prey” and then comes:
. . . “but many a king on a first-class throne,
if he wants to call his crown his own,
must manage somehow to get through,
more dirty work
than ever
*I* [drawn out note]

12 06 2007

OTOH he stopped reading Bridge to Terabithia partway through when a major character died. He felt sad and sort of betrayed, didn’t want to continue that way. So we wound up not going to see the movie at all, even though it was Disney and had the Because of Winn Dixie girl in it. He said “there was absolutely no way they could’ve made it good after that.”

He refuses to read the rest of the Narnia Chronicles because Reepicheep (the noble Talking Mouse) dies in Voyage of the Dawn Treader. It broke his tender heart. Kids (healthy ones) are in my experience very keen on fair play, justice and the good guys being brave and triumphing over pain, darkness and evil. Young Son wants his sister and me to pre-read the last Harry Potter for him and just tell him whether Harry dies or not, because if so, his plan is to keep him alive and the story unfinished forever, by not reading the “end.”
So would he have liked the finale of the Sopranos? Dunno — we never encouraged him to watch it and he has no interest in it or any other realistic drama. His imagination is very imaginative and metaphorical, not cruel and gritty at ALL.

I should probably add that Favorite Daughter learned by age 10 to prescreen movies and tv shows for ME, warning me when to skip over anything that hurt or was the least bit mean to children or animals. She teases me because I won’t watch movies with animals in peril, even animated Disney movies, in which they often are . . .it’s bad enough that Disney is always killing off the MOTHERS! 😉

12 06 2007

Oh — and look at the rich vocabulary, not just the history, of the Scarlet Pimpernel line above. “Savor” and “sever” both in one line, how can you love learning and not love kids who love that and think it’s natural to express ideas that way? 😀

12 06 2007

I should probably add that Favorite Daughter learned by age 10 to prescreen movies and tv shows for ME, warning me when to skip over anything that hurt or was the least bit mean to children or animals. (She teases me because I won’t watch movies with animals in peril, even animated Disney movies, in which they often are . . .it’s bad enough that Disney is always killing off the MOTHERS!
Sounds like my DH watching the news. Anything involving a child in trouble is immediately turned off. It just upsets the big strapping man too much. 🙂


12 06 2007

Exactly! It’s like hearing a baby cry in a restaurant or mall. I can’t TAKE it! Not because I’m cross at the disturbance but because I can’t shut off my auto-response machinery (and obviously I can’t go interfere when the mom is right there handling it) and so it’s like being the passenger for a ride you didn’t intend to take but can’t get off without removing yourself completely from the scene . . .

14 06 2007

Young Son did a lesser-known Stephen Sondheim musical in 2005, “Merrily We Roll Along,” as the only child in a pretty adult-themed story about regrets, loss, disillusionment, marital infidelity, betrayal of friendship and the emptiness of traditional success. He played a child of divorce who is literally pulled apart limb from limb in one scene in front of the courthouse, his parents pulling him in opposite directions. He had to yell out in anguish, “Dad, Da-a-a-d!” as he got pulled offstage bodily by his mother and her parents.

But all of this worked for him and his sunny disposition, I think because of an artistic device that happened to suit him. The whole story starts at the end and plays backward, as the characters get younger and happier. At the end everything is wonderful because they are just meeting each other and off to take the world by the tail. It’s very poignant for adults (I cried every time) but for him it was just perfect because the “ending” was happy. At the strike party, though, he solemnly informed the director and cast that he would be writing a new opening-end to send to Sondheim, in which the characters would resolve their midlife misery and wind up as happy at the end-beginning as they were at the beginning-end. 🙂

All in all, I consider the entire experience some of the best unschooling life lessons any of us could have learned together, positive and real and meaningful — but when you just say what the plot is or read the lines, you can’t possibly understand all that, it doesn’t translate. Like school. . .and no doubt many parents would say I was a bad mother for allowing it at his age and that he would surely be scarred by it.

16 07 2007
The “Furious Energy of Liberty” « Cocking A Snook!

[…] don’t usually, but it’s in exquisite high-def and the kids are in rehearsal for the Scarlet Pimpernel musical this summer, and tonight’s episode is all about the art leading up to “paranoid, […]

10 08 2007
School Theatre and Citizen Censorship « Cocking A Snook!

[…] School Theatre and Citizen Censorship 10 08 2007 You know the kids are doing a show right now, The Scarlet Pimpernel? […]

26 10 2007
Favorite Daughter Declares Blogger “Head Cleaning” Day « Cocking A Snook!

[…] from backstage during Theatre A La Carte’s “The Scarlet Pimpernel” which was a smash success, this past summer. (Very […]

3 11 2007
Choose Nine Books for Your Gift Box « Cocking A Snook!

[…] “The Scarlet Pimpernel” by Baroness Emmuska Orczy. Rip-roaring good fun and a musical the kids just did this summer in community […]

15 04 2009
Okay, Susan Boyle Belongs Here Too « Cocking A Snook!

[…] because Favorite Daughter and Young Son sing with infectious pleasure too, apparently from the same untainted love of it that Susan Boyle […]

23 11 2009

Two years later, Young Son is a lusty baritone taller at 14 than his sister is past the age of majority now. His favorite classically gruesome break-into-spontaneous song now, is Inspector Javert’s suicide song from Les Miserables:

Damned if I’ll live in the debt of a thief!
Damned if I’ll yield at the end of the chase.
I am the law and the law is not mocked
I’ll spit his pity right back in his face
There is nothing on earth that we share,
It is either Valjean — or Javert!

. . .I should have perished by his hand,
It was his right.
It was my right to die as well;
Instead I live, but live in hell.

And my thoughts fly apart,
Can this man be believed?
Shall his sins be forgiven?
Shall his crimes be reprieved?

And must I now begin to doubt,
Who never doubted all these years?
My heart is stone and still it trembles
The world I have known is lost in shadow.
Is he from heaven or from hell?
And does he know
That granting me my life today,
This man has killed me even so?

I am reaching, but I fall
And the stars are black and cold
As i stare into the void
Of a world that cannot hold
I’ll escape now from the world,
From the world of Jean Valjean.
There is nowhere I can turn,
There is no way to go ON-N-N —
[on last anguished note, throws himself into the Seine to drown]

11 10 2010
Why Is This GOP Candidate Dressed as a Nazi? « Cocking A Snook!

[…] buy that as the parent of kids who love history and theatre and specifically historical theatre. When my little boy builds a Lego guillotine and relishes chopping off Lego heads after playing a the…, does that make him a monster and me as his mother responsible? What do you […]

8 04 2011

Four years after the original post, Favorite Daughter is newly 21 and the dance captain for the big-dance-show-within-a-show “Curtains.” She gradually became de facto dance captain for this company just by doing it, which entails being in the cast herself so she’s always on hand to help her fellow cast members through the choreography. (Most of the cast in any show won’t be trained dancers so their minds and bodies don’t respond to the way dance teachers are taught to teach.)

What FavD does really well is something that she has unschooled herself in in the first place, because she didn’t learn choreography as a little girl without lots of patient internal translating, and now it’s also practical unschooling for/with the cast members she helps! 🙂

What she does isn’t about building up from years of fundamentals. It’s not formal technique either as dance or teaching (maybe as psychology?) — it’s an extension of her own lifelong unschooling, the completely organic, uniquely personal translation between student and desired performance. Depending on who wants help with which step and why they need it, she is there for them with all her passion and love of the material and enjoyment of the process for its own sake. That’s it!

It’s all positive and fun and looks like magic from the outside. We could call her The Dance Whisperer.

She helps each frustrated cast member figure out their individual stumbling block in executing each move properly, and then quickly helps find some effective way to help that cast member work it out. They trust her and she really likes helping. The choreographers tend to gape at her in amazement when they watch her do this one-on-one or in small groups, and see how it works.

14 07 2011
A Musical Theatre Unschooler’s Ode to Last Harry Potter Premiere « Cocking A Snook!

[…] He’s studying French with a private tutor, yet I wonder whether he noticed his parody particularly fits today as Bastille Day, set as it is to music from a French musical, his all-time favorite, Les Miserables. For my part, I never imagined much less planned for Bastille Day to figure into our unschooling musically or any other way, even though it already has done, for both of them. […]

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