On October 1, the *Lily* cast and director Stacy Pendergraft gave me the luxury of a full reading of the play. This reading is very early in the writing process, and I really appreciated their willingness to share their time and talents. We were also so lucky to have Judy Goss and Cheri Devol and her family in attendance. Judy provided great playwrighting insight, and Cheri gave us wonderful technical ideas. Right now, I am letting their feedback percolate in my mind. I intend to revise again after my Horace Mann project goes up on Nov 2nd. Until then....I'll keep you updated on Horace Mann and, at some point, I'm going to write up a post on the devising project I directed at Hendrix in September. Busy, busy in the best of ways!
The *Lily & the Apple Seed* cast and I were thrilled to be a part of Little Rock's Healthy Eating and Active Living Summit organized by Michael Drake and held at Philander Smith College. We presented a ten minute cutting of this in-progress play exploring healthy choices and seed to plate ideas right before Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius' keynote address. We were very excited to have such a prime spot, and it was great exposure for Wildwood's upcoming spring educational tour of the play.
Inspired by Emily Sutterfield's story, *Lily and the Apple Seed,* helps elementary school educators encourage healthy eating and active living. Lily settles in every day after school to watch her "favorite pal" Huck and to eat all the salty and sweet Snackum's products he sells on TV. Lily's Grandma Francis grows her own food. When Lily is sent to Grandma's for the summer, she learns to love fruits, vegetables, cheeses, and meats. Back home, Lily must make a decision--will she continue to make healthy choices as exemplified by Grandma or will she return to Huck's tempting treats? Designed for grades kindergarten through 5th, the play addresses Nutrition and Personal Health and Safety standards on the Health and Wellness strand of the Arkansas K-8 PE and Health Curriculum Frameworks.
Wildwood Park for the Arts will tour the play to elementary schools in February and March of 2011.
Thanks to director Stacy Pendergraft and actors Emily Wold, Marquis Bullock, and Ameria Jones for making this preview a success! Looking forward to the full reading at UALR Sunday night!
Day 3 proved to be very fruitful. We intentionally decreased the number of scenes and increased audience participation each day. That meant Day 3 consisted primarily of audience participation. Stephanie and Ebon performed one scene, facilitated, continued scene, and the rest of class was supposed to be forum theatre, and a talk by Angela from Safe Places. Our forum theatre didn't work. There are three reasons: 1) the scene itself wasn't very forum-able, and 2) the middle school students had a hard time not giggling which meant the scene lost its power, and 3) Our actors weren't experienced enough with forum. After struggling through forum for two periods, we relied on discussion for the remainder.
It was great having Angela from Safe Places there to talk to students. She was able to engage the students with a level of seriousness about bullying that I don't know we were. She also gave them her card in case they or their friends needed to talk about bullying, dating, or domestic violence.
At the end of the day, Angela, Stephanie, Ebon, Holly (the teacher), and I sat down to reflect on what worked and what didn't. It was a very useful conversation to me. We decided that the storyline was strong although it needed some tweaking to be more age appropriate. We want to flesh out the male character a little more as the play focuses a lot on the female character right now. We want to play him up as a strong, confident alternative to our male antagonist. I want to rework some of the facilitations. The students' individual packets were liked by all.
I feel very proud of our work, and, hopefully, we can continue to make it better.
Day Two started off rough. First period has lots of interruptions with announcements and DEAR time, so that factors in. However, I think the main problem was the our facilitations were misplaced. We had not scaffolded them well. We reworked that for the 2nd class, and things went much smoother. In fact, the classes that were a little less interested yesterday seemed more interested today. Off tomorrow, and then we go again on Thursday!
Choosing Sides: Day One went surprisingly well. I've been in love with theatre-in-education since I took the T.i.E. course at UT with Lynn Hoare. Seeing how a play could create a space for open dialogue about challenging issues was really eye-opening for me as a grad student. T.i.E. plays are so tricky to create, though. It is so easy to get preachy and trite and just plain boring. I was so thrilled to see that Day One went so well. Of course, there are things we will revise. I'm a little nervous about days 2 and 3 because some students have already guessed what's going to happen. I've also realized we need to hear more from Chris, our male character. We really get to know Ashley in the first day. The second day should be about getting to know Chris. After our rehearsal for Day Two today, however, I realized we need more scenes that focus on Chris' side of this story. Excited and anxious about Day Two!
About the Author: April Gentry-Sutterfield is a director, deviser, educator, and mom who uses theatre as a tool for social justice, education, and community engagement.