2nd Graders of San Ramon: Airborne!

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Mentor Artist Eliot Fintushel filed this report on the flying second graders of San Ramon Elementary School in Novato:

Our Sculpture Garden

Our Sculpture Garden
The children are taking turns as clay and as sculptor. When each round of statues is done and half the children have hardened into stone, we who are the round’s artists tour our Sculpture Garden and name the various pieces–before they melt and sculpt US!

In five weekly sessions, three classes of 2nd Graders at Novato’s San Ramon Elementary School learned . . .

  • How to fly anywhere in or out of this world and at once
  • How to make any household object into anything else, big or small
  • How to become a group photograph of events past, present, or future, near or far
  • How to go up and down on elevators flights of stairs that aren’t there
  • How to do pushups with (a) one hand (b) one pinky (c) no hands, nothing at all
  • How to make a statue of a friend or to to become clay and be made a statue
  • How to weave fantastic stories out of thin air
  • Many other extremely practical things

We used techniques of pantomime, including illusions and figurations of the body. We explored narrative improvisation. We played many theatre games and did lots of exercises for concentration, coordination, agility–and. let’s confess, the fun of it.

Roman CharioteersRoman Charioteers
In under five seconds, these children have BECOME a photograph of Roman charioteers, through our magical camera

Unfortunately, a number of the children, it must be reported, were observed flying over remote areas of the Antarctic, which, as we learned, WERE NOT IN MARIN COUNTY (which is where everybody was very clearly instructed to confine their flights!) Some had to be shipped back to Novato in crates, as we found out in our storytelling exercises.

The children were asked to sit, at a hand clap, with a particular feeling imbuing every bone and cell.

I implore teachers, parents, and Youth In Arts staff to help remind the children of the dangers of solo interstellar flight.  We are still negotiating with the Rock Dwellers of Neptune for the return of several of our 2nd Graders who flew there over the weekend, using the mime technique of string causality.


2nd Graders are beginning to take flight, using the mime technique of string causality. WARNING: Stay over Marin County and do NOT wave to people in airplanes.

More . . .

Take, Double Take

Take, Double Take
In this game, the children learn stage presence through the use of masks. The power of the TAKE, of simply looking or looking away is dramatically conveyed and immediately understood.

 . . . also . . .

Experiment in Sitzfleisch

Experiment in Sitzfleisch
Physical Theatre is all about learning to think with one’s whole body. In this game, the children are creating–in an instant–entirely new ways of sitting!

  . . . not to mention . . .

Beloved Renegade

Beloved Renegade
In this exercise in leaning, one of the students has decided, unasked, to vary it by standing and leaning on one leg only. Hurray! Unlike many lessons in school, the lessons in theatre classes are as well served by the renegades as by the conformist. It’s a fine line and a delicate call, to be sure, since discipline is, of course, what make experimentation possible, but, ah, the joy of an occasional . . . DISCOVERY!

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