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Backstage Pass

When it comes to theater, what you see is certainly not what you get. It’s only the tip of the iceberg.

beavers at play

Bouncing Beavers and a Blue Jay! photo: Jay R. Cline

The Discovery Class’ latest production, How the Drum Came to the People, tells the story of how the sun conspires with fox, fire and wind to give the People their first drum. Lots of little kids frolicking on stage, delighted with their costumes, and, oh yeah, they even remembered their lines in the midst of all that distraction!

Maria Morevna, a co-production of the Explorer and Middle School classes, recounts the tale of Czar Ivan, a bit of a simpleton, upon his quest to save his beloved warrior princess (Maria). True of heart and weak of brains, Ivan nevertheless manages to trick and defeat such Russian mythical figures as Koschei the Deathless and Baba Yaga, with the help of good deeds, magic spoons, and newly made friends.

Both are fun, colorful stories, with plenty of shenanigans to delight all ages.

dance fever!

Post curtain-call dance fest! photo: Jay R. Cline

Now, about seeing the rest of that iceberg…

Imagine that you were in the audience, and that you could just hit the pause button and freeze the acting up there on the stage. Imagine you could climb up over the apron (that’s the very front part of the stage area) and take a stroll amongst the actors.

After admiring the elaborate costumes and maybe pinching a cheek or two, you could head into the wings and see teacher Tom getting the next set of kids backstage ready for the next scene change. You could poke your nose into the “sound effects department” while you’re there, where yet more students have set up a plethora of odd objects to create the myriad of bird calls, gusts of wind, rolling thunder, and twinkling chimes that the script calls for, all performed live backstage.


Five Acre teachers, students, and graduates all working together

Just behind the back curtain, you could walk past a row of students in various states of costumed attire, all at the ready behind marimbas and drums to provide the play’s musical score (in between their own appearances on stage).

Now pick up your remote again and press the rewind button. Wind back to before the start of the performances and head back into the big scene shop past the stage entrance. You’ll see all of the cast getting ready, putting on makeup and dressing hair with the help of Five Acre graduates who had all been there before. You’ll see students straitening each others’ costumes and checking themselves in the huge rolling mirrors before heading to a round of pep-talks by director Rosie. If you make it out into the hall, you’ll be inundated by costumed kinderg√§rtners vibrating with anticipation, and teacher Jane holding a horned student firmly by the cheeks and saying, “BE the buffalo!”

baba yaga

Baba Yaga Rap! photo: Jay R. Cline

And if you keep rewinding, let’s say several weeks, you’ll find yourself back at school, where the students are reading the legends of indigenous peoples and drawing Russian architecture. Five Acre plays and curriculum go very well together, you see.

But let’s get back to the theater, shall we? We’ll take it from where we left off, about where Ivan is showing kindness to Baba Yaga’s 1,000 year old cat, which will prove a boon later on in the story…

Ah, the world is but a stage.

take a bow

Take a Bow! photo: Jay R. Cline