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A few days ago I posed a query regarding whether the good, old-fashioned
"Class Play"  had gone the way of mini-skirts and flare-leg jeans
(oh wait--I forgot--they're back again, aren't they?).

My own memories of the class plays are wholly positive.  I got a chance to
be on a stage and ham it up.  I believe it helped to prepare me to speak
in front of crowds, and enhanced my self-confidence.

Neither of my own children have been in plays.

My son, now age 24, went to school in the city of Buffalo.  His
kindergarten teacher did have a graduation program he participated in,
but that was the one and only opportunity he ever had to be in any
performance.  My daughter, age 14, attends a suburban school.
Twice a year a huge musical performance is put on at both the middle and
high school levels. She has tried out for it every year until this year.
She finally gave up, feeling discouraged & rejected.  It seems that the
same kids get chosen year after year after year (the ones with singing
talent and the ones whose parents are "influential").

Well, anyway, I received several replies and even more responses showing
interest in  the replies.

The Hit Starts Here:

Interesting observation!  I'm a drama sponsor (by default--no one else at
my old school was willing to do it and then I got hooked on it) and had
not even thought of the term "class play" for years.  We, too, do big
musicals (at my present middle school--2 per year, plus a talent show.)
In fact, I haven't even heard anyone talk about "my class" recently--in
middle school it is "my team" and there are 2 teams per grade.  Drama is
one area that crosses the team lines, which I think is a good thing.

Drama gives me a wonderful way to reach kids, as a librarian, but in a
whole new way.  I try to involve kids who need a good peer group, as well
as the talented dramatic kids who naturally come out for the plays.  We
have had some wonderful times!
Let me know what you find out!

Dianne Murray
From Arizona,
One great source for class plays is "Plays" the magazine... it comes out
with 9 issues a year (Aug.-May) and once you have a subscription you can
have a live/video performance of any play within the collection you
It is wonderful and some are great classics.. each issue has a play for
K-12 with skits for High School pep rallies and other suggestions... not
every issue has a play for each grade level but I did a lot with the K-8
and K-12 students where we would use a play for the 1st grade and the 9th
graders would perform it in costume and do the sets.. or the upper grades
would help the lower grades to memorize their parts and encourage the
little ones' acting skills ... the teachers loved the collaboration
between grades.
From NJ...
During the year here the fourth and eighth grades have plays. They do
involve everyone in the class. The third does the Thanksgiving assembly.
The fifth grade writes and presents Greek plays. Perhaps the use of large
assemblies highlighting music or drama groups has taken the place of the
yearly single class play.

From NYC,
I share your disappointment  in the school system.  In NYC schools  I have
noticed some schools (mostly the ones with the best funding) having all
grades perform a play each year.  My daughter is in the 3rd grade now, and
aside from the the year and half we lived in Charlotte, NC  she hs yet to
do a class play (I thank god for the year and a half she had in University
Park (a creative arts magnet school) in Charlotte; because she gets only
the 3 R's here in NYC.

From Maryland,
The class play is alive and well in Waldorf schools. Every class in our
school puts on a play every year--even the first grade. We only go up to
eighth grade, and theirs is a pretty amazing production, with an evening
performance, lights, etc.

From NJ,
 Our school does it still. Each grade level, except the graduating 5th
graders whose class play is their moving up ceremony, is required to
write and put on a play.

This year's plays:

 Kindergarten - Laura Numeroff's 3 books + a creation of their own: "If
you give a kid a crayon"

Grade 1 - Tribute to Eric Carle
Grade 2 - Winnie the Pooh stories
Grade 3 - versions of the 3 little pigs
Grade 4 - February themes (Black History, Presidents, Love)

 It is alot of work for the classroom teachers - who lose many hours of
instructional time with practicing . The parents contribute their talent
to costumes and simple scenery, as well as providing juice and cookies to
the performers afterwards. This year several parents suggested forming a
school wide play committee , to oversee costumes and scenery for all
plays. This way one person (or group) knows where all costumes and
scenery are stored, as well as what there is available. The group would
coordinate the class parents when it comes time to develop costumes and
scenery. This way, The pig and wolf costumes the third grade had this
year, could be re-used in a few years in first grade, etc.

 It also is alot of work for our music and art teachers -- the music
teacher usually writes her own lyrics to a familiar tune; the kids learns
3-5 songs for each play, to be sung while each class is shifting
positions. Each class performs their own play on the grade level theme;
all 4-5 classes perform together.

From Michigan,
Our music teacher "produces" a play or musical concert for each grade
level (no easy task with many multi-age classrooms!!) in our K-5
elementary school.
From Colorado,
I grew up in northern New York (St. Lawrence County) and have never
heard of a class play.  In elementary school, we had several programs
every year in which most if not all students had a part, but not
necessarily a play.  Sounds fun, but I'm sure that in my current
district with a preoccupation with test scores, no elementary teachers
would be willing to devote a significant chunk of time to producing a
class play.

From NH,

The class play is alive and well at Newfound Regional HIgh School.
Actually, drama is huge here -- seriously rivaling athletics for sheer
numbers and enthusiasm.

Every October:  the senior class play (a fundraiser).

Every November:  Fine and Performing Arts Night (includes drama)

Every January:  Once-Act Competition.  Each of the four classes in the
school (9-12) put on a play for team of judges who award best actor, best
actress, best play, best director.  _I_ <blush, blush> took Best Director
this year!

Every May:  The Annual School and Community Musical.

I was bitten by the theatre bug over a decade ago.  I'm in the musical
every year.  THIS WEEK Rodgers and Hammerstein's _Cinderella_ opens.  I am
the King (also known as His Majesty Comic Relief).  The queen and I have a
great duet:  "Boys and Girls Like You and Me."  By day I am a
Mild-Mannered Librarian, but at night I turn into TheatreMan!!  (Ask my
long-suffering student aides.)

Seriously -- the library program collaborates VERY closely with the drama
department -- publicity, tickets, etc.  THIS is where all the theatre kids
hang out, and theater kids are the GREATEST kids!

Right now my library is being converted into the Green Room for tonight's
dress rehearsal.  Newspapers down on the carpets and tables, a long double
row of lighted mirrors.  The place is buzzing!

For everybody who wishes that their library was more of a hub of activity
in the school -- and remembering the great connections we can make between
drama and literature -- make friends with your drama department.  And the
next time they announce auditions for something or other...

Try it!  You may LOVE it!

My not-so-humble opinion.  Sorry;  I'm excited about this week.

Dawn Sardes
Recent MLS Grad
SUNY Buffalo

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