What do our children need to know (part 3)

Martin and I met up and he gainfully proceeded to bring musical color to my ten dollar canvas. He is a fast worker and a true professional; and it wasn’t long before songs were set to break up my seven-scene play. Believable costumes, scenes, props and music; the show was now complete and ready to go. I think my proudest moment was hearing the cheers of the audience as my pupils bowed and curtsied before leaving the stage. It was a fantastic feeling, a feeling that lives with me each and every time I see A Lesson in the Jungle wind its way around a theatre hall.

No matter how good one believes something is though, all good things must come to an end. I have never been a one for ends; the sky is the limit, as far as I am concerned. Both Martin and I knew that A lesson in the Jungle was something quite special, not just a flash in the pan, but a potential firecracker in a star spangled, night sky. We knew the potential was there, although it’s a fact that no man is an island. The Beetles once sang, “We get by with a little help from our friends.” Has there ever been a truer statement? Personally, I feel that it is “friends and God”; and not necessarily in that order. I had friends though, good friends, had one good friend in particular.

I made yet another phone call, this time to a one, Fredrika Plessen. Our friendship goes back over a period of years and a friend in need is a friend in deed. We arranged to meet, Martin, Fredrika and myself. Martin and I presented our case, explained in hair-fine detail, our dreams for A Lesson in the Jungle. From A to Z and back again, we left no stone untouched. Fredrika loved the idea and from that moment on, things just got better and better. She arranged for us to work with a 5th grade class in the town of Kungsbacka. Two months with the children, our first pilot project. We didn’t just concentrate on a theatre, although A Lesson in the Jungle was obviously our main goal. We encouraged the children to open up and to become part of the show; we offered them drama games to help them improve articulation, movement, concentration and character building. Most importantly though, everything was kept in English. Admittedly, some of the children were unsurprisingly reluctant to speak anything other than Swedish in the beginning. Things changed though of course they did.

Our first show took place on Wednesday 23rd of February, 2000. The children stood up before their peers and performed a fun musical, entirely in English. We did the same show again on the 25th and the response was just the same. A local reporter came along and wrote a wonderful piece about the show.

The next step was to bring A Lesson in the Jungle into other classrooms, to offer other children the chance to perform a jungle theme theatre, entirely in English. This isn’t just about language though, this is far greater than just a helping hand into a second language. This is a tool that teachers can use, an avenue that can lead the young along awe-inspiring journeys and into exciting experiences that they might never have experienced otherwise. The benefits of this show are endless; there are no boundaries to cross. It is a learning experience, a door into a whole new world, accompanied by song and dance. The proof is in the pudding I always say, and for sure the success of A Lesson in the Jungle rests cheerfully on the faces of the children who worked so diligently with it.

Wishing you all a wonderful day

Gavin

 

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