At Ivy League “the Play Is the Thing.” But so are whole school musicals and class performances. Within an educational setting, public performance can fulfill many roles. From finger plays and puppetry in the toddler room to poetry readings in fifth grade, the curtain is up on opportunities for encouraging creative expression and utilizing oral communication skills. As children take on different roles, use different voices or gestures, dress the part, and walk in other people’s shoes, they find ways to demonstrate their social and emotional intelligence and creative talents.
It is customary for each class at Ivy League to mount a production related to its curriculum. Examples from the past include poetry teas in which students recited their own poems; a student narrated colonial exhibit, an original play based on a visit from the gods on Mount Olympus, and a musical trip through the solar system. In our preschool, children perform for a friendly audience of parents as they recite nursery rhymes, sing or reenact fairy tales.
School-wide musical productions have included Peter Pan, Annie and the Sound of Music and Broadway Reviews. Visiting artists such as Lorraine Velez (singer and actress who has specialized in musical theater), D. Michael Heath (vocal technician, concert soloist, and Broadway veteran) and Amy McGrath (acclaimed accompanist) join forces to help direct our spectacular productions. Additionally, our parents and faculty love to be involved in making this a true community theater production. They paint scenery, mount lights, provide sound systems and sew costumes.
Students involved in theater learn many social and behavioral skills including the importance of teamwork and collaboration. Performing requires a high level of discipline. Students must be motivated to do their best in an assigned role, interact with other players, and be supportive of peers. They must learn to focus, memorize, follow directions, and demonstrate a certain level of proficiency depending on age.