Images from the March 18th rehearsal on
the practice stage at the CTL.
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Extended press release:
West Branch School Students To Present By Jove, It's All Greek To Me!
The 3rd through 6th grade students of West Branch School will be busy at the Community Theater League this week putting the final touches on their play “By Jove, It’s All Greek to Me”. Each year the Upstairs class (grades 3-6) performs a full-scale production equipped with sound, lighting, costumes, makeup and a full stage crew. This year’s performances will take place on Friday, March 27th at 10:30am, Saturday, March 28th at 7:30pm and Sunday, March 29th at 2:00pm.
The annual play was added as part of the curriculum at West Branch School in 1980. According to Operations Manager, Natali Prindle, “It was added to build upon the confidence piece as well as the artistic piece of who we are as a school community and as educators, engaging the whole child in our program. I think the students get a wonderful sense of self-awareness, confidence, as well as a sense of others. They need to know when to speak, when to listen, when and how to move, take cues, etc. It really allows them to access so many different facets of their brains and development in areas they may not have approached before or in this magnitude.”
A different play is chosen by the teachers each year. This is typically done before the students go on winter break in December. “When choosing a play we consider the number of students we have, along with the personalities and interests of the students,” says teacher Laura Schultz. After the play is chosen, the students work together and read through the script multiple times. This allows the students to become familiar with the storyline and the characters. Each student is asked to choose three roles they would like to play. The teachers then make the casting decisions, taking into consideration which roles each student prefers. “The most challenging aspect of the play for me was making sure each student had a role they were interested in, that was challenging enough, and that they would embrace” says Schultz.
Rehearsals usually start in mid-February after the school’s Science Fair. As the play draws near, more details are added into the rehearsal such as blocking (the actors’ placement and movement on stage) and the use of props. A week before the performance, students have “school at the theater.” This week at the theater also allows the stage crew to finalize all details of the set and practice the set changes between scenes.
The stage crew is comprised almost entirely of parent volunteers who work closely with the teachers and students to make the play a successful production. While the students are learning their lines, the parent volunteers are busy working out the details with costumes, makeup, scenery and props. The school owns an extensive collection of costumes, many of which have been used several times before in many different plays. Alterations are often made to the costumes to better suit the look of the character or sometimes a new costume is handmade specifically for the role. The children try on the costumes, sometimes multiple times, to ensure the proper fit. Props and scenery are also chosen from the school’s large collection, which grows a little each year.
The week spent rehearsing at the theater is as enjoyable as it is hard work. When asked what her favorite part of the play is, Fatima Zeshan replied, “My favorite part about the play is all of it; the rehearsals and working together to make this play. I also like the costumes. It makes me feel proud and brave because not many people can go on a huge stage when everyone is looking at you.”
Regular school work will still continue at the theater when the students are not rehearsing. On Thursday, March 26th a full-scale dress rehearsal will be held. This gives the students and the stage crew the opportunity to run through the play from beginning to end with no interruptions. Parent volunteer, Sarina Bower, states, “I’m looking forward to seeing the play really come together this week at the theater. The kids have been working so hard and are very excited to get to wear their costumes and use all of their props. There are a few this year that will be up on the stage for the first time; they are a little nervous but I think by Friday they will be more than ready to go. It’s amazing what a few days practicing on the stage will do for their confidence.” Elliott McKelvey, student, chimed in with, “I feel really confident because I’ve been doing plays for a while now and I get the gist of it. And it’s fun because all of the people are staring down on you expecting to see amazing talents. The play creates a wonderful community at the school. I love doing plays!”
Performances are Friday, March 27th at 10:30am, Saturday, March 28th at 7:30pm and Sunday, March 29th at 2:00pm. Friday’s performance is free. Tickets for Saturday and Sunday are $6.00 (children under 12 $3.00). Call 570-323-5498 to reserve your seats. All shows are open to the public.