Five days ago, six staff from Heartwood Theater group met us for the first time and just two hours ago they were saying good bye to the cheers and hoots from the middle school students here at AVS. What a ride it has been!

It truly has been an outstanding experience for our community. Our students were put to the test with themes such as, teamwork, creativity, expression, responsibility, respect, support, critique, stretching one's comfort zone, pride, projection, etc... They were frustrated, struggling, wondering, tired, energetic, etc...  And all of this was delivered to them in the form of a play. What a plan.

These five days have been about the process of this sort of creative work. It was new to them, challenging to them, eye opening, powerful, inspiring, and rewarding. They had they questions, they needed to develop the tools to be able to answer these questions, they needed to use creativity to answer these questions and they needed the support and guidance to answer these questions. This is what Heartwood gave them. May of them do not see all that they have been through in this short time frame but as a watcher from within it has been a great experience for me to see these students rise to the occasion and feel good about their work.

As a sat in the audience for their final performance I heard from parents whose children had struggled with the experience and I heard from parents whose children loved the opportunity to have input, control and the time and support for them to use their creativity. 

"They didn't tell us what to do", "They said that there wasn't a right way or a wrong way do to it." As a student that can be intimidating if you are not use to having the freedom in your learning to explore for yourself. They craved structure. Give them lines and a place to stand to deliver those lines and they will be happy. 

But if you ask them to create a feeling using motion and visual and audio cues where does that leave them? They truly have to use all their knowledge to deliver the answer to that question. And the real kicker is that there isn't even a "right" answer to the question. There are as many possibilities as there are ideas and many students were excited to be able to share their ideas and interests in creating the play

How would you make a polar bear die on stage? Not an easy task. I would struggle on just getting a polar bear on stage in the first place.  It was this sort of learning, problem solving and creative work that our students were doing for five days.  It resulted it a grand production of The Arctic Journey. One that they can be proud of as they look back on that "ice play thing" that they did in middle school this year. 

Hats off to all involved and thanks for the experience I loved it.
Kevin Kiley
3/26/2010 11:27:06 pm

The success of the Heartwood program is shared with the overall support from the school and the community. As performer/teachers we could not have done it without you.
Thank you very much for the experience.
Kevin Kiley

Kelly Callahan
3/29/2010 10:56:10 am

I'm so glad i was able to make the performance. As a veteran of many years of middle and high school theater (mostly community... Theater Project in Brunswick) i can vouch for the unparalleled learning and growing opportunity that theater is. I love that this was provided for the students. I wonder if any of them would be interested in starting a little AVS theater troupe??

Than Porter
3/31/2010 10:36:22 am

Kelly, we have had Al Miller work with us on a number of occasions in the past. That was always a treat. It had a similar feel to it. We just did not do a full performance in those days.

The idea is an AVS theater troupe sounds like a nice idea.


Leave a Reply.