When the Covid 2020 pandemic hit, we were in the middle of making big plans for a show like non other. A show full of intrigue (would the billy goats make it over the bridge?), horror (oh, that mean troll!), triumph (yes, clever goats defeat mighty troll). The show would include tenderness, perseverance, and friendship. (Oh, sweet Charlie Troll), AND, the show would teach us that minds can be changed.
The children had experienced a moment in January where their mind "started at red but then it turned green" concerning trolls. "My mind changed what it was thinking." "My mind turned on." They discovered that not all trolls are bad. In making that discovery, they learned something about themselves: their minds can change. They wanted to do a show that would change other people's minds.
They were certain that if we started our show with mean trolls, and then showed them gentle trolls, people would change their minds. They picked class favorite, The Three Billy Goats Gruff, and a beloved class story, Charlie the Troll (written by a 2018 preschooler)
In February each child picked the part they would play in the show. We were working with our music teacher to add music that set the mood for each scene. We worked with our theater teacher to find our cues and stage spots. We worked with movement teachers to find just the right moves for our bodies. And in early March, we formed committees (set committee, stage committee, audience committee, costume committee). The set committee had begun work with our art teacher to create a grassy meadow and meandering stream.
We left for Spring Break with big plans for an April opening. And then, the unimaginable pandemic hit, and we did not return to school. Our classrooms became virtual spaces.
This project and the lessons learned are too important to be lost to a virus. The work, ideas, and discoveries of this class need to be honored. And so, the show goes on. It is not the show we envisioned with costumes, lights, tickets, etc. But it is a show of the times, using the best digital tools we have, displaying the virtual connections we have made. The live video comes from simpler days--a day in the fall when we were just playing around with the billy goat story at Hickory Hill. The artwork for the Charlie story is the children's, made pre-pandemic.
It turns out, this show not only entertains and changes minds, but it also is a show of hope, promise, and friendship during this difficult time. Like Charlie, I feel I have been walking through 100 forests, for 1000 years. But like Charlie, I'll keep walking knowing there are those out there, different from myself, but who are my brothers and sisters.
We will find each other.
"You might think you know something, but then you find out out you didn't really know it very well and your mind changes." --Teo, age 5
5 day teacher