By YIA Mentor Artist Thomas Arndt
“I’m BORED. BORED, BORED, BORED!!!” exclaimed the king, slouched in his throne with his chin on his fist. And what a grumpy face he had! The other actors worked very hard to fool him, and finally it was the little girl who saved the day! “Fooling the King” was one of many new short plays that my two Harding classes worked with for the past several weeks, and they did a wonderful job.
In the first weeks, we built trust and basic acting skills – especially focusing on using strong, clear voices and using one’s body to express emotion. We also declared our classes a “Judgment-Free Zone” and had some great discussions about what is so scary in 6th Grade about performing in front of others. Once we had that discussion, we were able to check in every day with how the class was doing at supporting each other. We had a great day with “Building a Machine,” in which we eventually built a machine full of noise and movement using every single person in the room. In this case, no one had to worry about being watched because they were all busy acting.
My goal for each class is always to have each student grow in some way at their own level. Especially in the last 3 weeks while we worked on our short plays, I saw each kid finding more strength in their voice and more expression in their character. One student had the most stage fright I’ve ever seen. We got him to take small steps. First, he decided to be the Stage Manager. Then, he rehearsed but didn’t perform. And finally, he performed off stage, using a microphone as the Narrator. I think it was a huge success. I also saw many students who struggled with reading growing stronger as they did the same short play 3 weeks in a row- once they knew their lines, they really opened up!
And overall, we just had a great time performing Fooling the King, My Teacher Ate My Homework, Wayne the Stegosaurus, Sometimes Arthur Is Choosy, Hershele Gets a Meal, and I Call First!