The Madness of Mid-Terms and Theatre

FlexSchool Education mid-term studying

This week it seemed to be a perfect fit to have the madness of midterms paired with the drama of Shakespeare, and to have our homes covered in snow. Or should we say, it seemed to be a perfect storm.

Last week, the FlexSchool high school students made it through mid-terms! (And through the blizzard of 2016 with more than 20 inches of snow and an ensuing snow day…) Congratulations!  They had a few reading and study days followed by three days of exams.  We’re happy to say that we all managed our midterm “madness” by continuing with our routines of yoga, mindfulness, and some fun games and “adult coloring books”.

We concluded the week with a final visit from Kate Moore Heaney.  Kate worked with the students through some Shakespearean scenes.  The students rehearsed, made some costumes from school supplies, and performed their designated roles later in the day.

As the Bard himself would say, “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” In our case, this week showed what great students and faculty we have, with everyone’s hard work and dedication trampling the snow.

Click here to see images from this event and more on our FlexSchool gallery.

At FlexSchool, we build our curriculum around providing all around high-quality educational experiences for our students. Visit https://flexschool.net.

Theater & Commedia Dell’Arte

FlexSchool Education theater

After a week packed with a class trip and lots of reading, this FlexFriday the students warmed up their energy levels by passing an imaginary ball of “woosh!” around. Kate Moore Heaney focused on Commedia Dell’Arte with the students.  Kate explained that it’s “comedy of the artisans,” a skill or craft for which the performers were paid. This improv form of performance originated in 16th century Italy and its influence can be seen in Shakespeare (and, as we learned today, in Japanese anime!). Kate showed images of stock characters from commedia dell’arte and told us about the different groups they belonged to:  there are the older folks (il vecchi), the servants (il zanni), and the lovers (gli innamorati).

The students were asked to perform lazzi, or comic bits, after choosing a stock character to portray.  They hobbled around like Pantalone with his money bag, faked their knowledge of Latin like the Dottore, and played star-crossed lovers like Isabella and Flavio.  We all learned about the importance of masks in this art:  the character develops from without, not within.  And all of the members of the troupes used to wear such masks, except those portraying the lovers since they were repudiated to be good-looking and everyone wanted to see them.  Kate talked about the origin of the term “slapstick” comedy and how an actual slap stick was used to make exaggerated sounds.  In fact, the students were encouraged to come up with exaggerated movements of those they usually make.  Some students shrugged (dramatically), yawned (languidly), or cracked their knuckles (loudly).

To gain focus at the beginning and at the end of their session, the students played a “quarter counting” game.  They need to focus on a quarter and count individually without looking at each other.  If any two students count the same number simultaneously, they all must start again.  This is repeated until they reach 21.

Next week, we hope to explore literature, perhaps some Shakespeare, and put our knowledge to use!  In FlexSchool, we’ve read Romeo and Juliet, Othello, Hamlet, and King Lear among other plays of students’ choosing.  Today, one of the students even referenced another reading, Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, and the notion of a “Bunbury”.  We love to see how our academic studies continue to relate to outside experiences!

Click here to see images from this event and more on our FlexSchool gallery.

At FlexSchool, we build our curriculum around providing all around high-quality educational experiences for our students. Visit https://flexschool.net.

Improvisation

flexscool-education-improvisation

Last week, we began our performance series. Kate Moore Heaney visited and introduced us to improv. A professional actor, Kate talked about how improv is like juggling among people. We started out by assigning movements to our names and then after establishing a pattern, we had to throw the movements to each other. We eventually got to the point of communicating non-verbally, with just eye contact. A tight-knit group, our FlexSchool community surprised Kate at how quickly we were able to work together without talking! Working together in Vermont and throughout the school year ensured that we are attuned to each other’s cues. All the students participated and showed that they do not get stage fright or performance anxiety. We at FlexSchool try to reach students through a variety of learning experiences, and some students thrive when they are the center of attention, which emerged during improvisation.

The students continued with assorted activities, some loud, some quiet. They designed a human-machine where each person was a part. They walked silently and were able to note where the others were, even with their eyes closed. They passed energy and completed stories and then sentences while sitting in a circle. One student became a frog while another was a queen knighting her court members. All in all, it was a fun FlexFriday and we enjoyed sitting, standing, and moving around the room. The variety of activities kept us on our toes! We look forward to what Kate has in store for this Friday as we continue working with her in January. Next topic: theater!​

Click here to see images from this event and more on our FlexSchool gallery.

At FlexSchool, we build our curriculum around providing all around high-quality educational experiences for our students. Visit https://flexschool.net.