Adventures in Education

By Julianne Shea

One of my favorite things about being a Theater for Kids/Education intern at Portland Stage is that we are always busy with new and exciting things to do and this week was no exception.

Some of my adventures this past week included:

  • Battling the rain as I hung posters with Jen (the carpentry/scenic intern) for our upcoming production of Souvenir.
  • Keeping up with student matinee reservations – shows are filling up fast!
  • Preparing mailings for our upcoming Halloween Play Me a Story event
  • Assisting with an after school workshop
  • We struck the set for Brighton Beach Memoirs, which means I’m slowly becoming more adept with a screw gun.
  • Hanging lights from the cat walk during electrics changeover. The catwalk is the area in the ceiling over the audience – it’s really high up!
  • Creating Dragon Puppets for our Dragon Themed Play Me A Story event on Saturday morning.

One of the most anticipated events for me during this week full of exciting work were the first school visits of the season. We went to three Portland Public elementary schools with our PLAY program. This program brings a dynamic performance and workshop to students in order to promote literacy and a love of theater. This time our stories and poems focused on immigration. Our professional actors performed The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi and Laundry Day by Maurie J. Manning, as well as “When Fall Comes to New England” by Cheryl Wheeler and “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus. We also discussed the meaning behind the Pledge of Allegiance. Following the performance, the students participated in interactive workshops with the actors they had just seen perform. In the workshops, students focused on activating their body, voice, and imagination.

I really enjoyed hearing the students and teachers reactions to our arrival at the school. As we were setting up I heard one teacher say, “Remember I told you we have special guests today”. When students were filing into the gym for the performance it was great to hear one of them say “Oh, I love Theater for Kids”. Another fourth grade student was excited to use the skills she learned in the workshop about manipulating her voice to tell a story to a younger student in the Book Buddy program at her school. This whole experience made me think of the arts based programming that came into my elementary school. I still remember those experiences, and they drove who I have become as a theater maker and educator. Getting to be part of those moments for Portland students, and to see the impact that the arts have on children, is wonderful, and a really special part of the work I do with Portland Stage.

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