The students of Queen Alexandra school are getting good at this. Very good. The young playwrights and thespians in Queen Alexandra's grade 6/7 class banded together this year to create Acceptance: I Am Who I Am, the fourth major drama production Queen Alexandra has produced in as many years.
Classroom teachers, Rick Lee, Melanie Hansen and Inner City Program Teacher, Jamine Hickman worked with the 55 students from 2 classes, integrating lessons from the classroom with the students' life experiences. Together they combined the personal and educational into a 45 minute production. The plot of the play revolves around a school talent show and as the students rehearse and prepare to present their talents they deal with their personal struggles, and questions about who they are. As a result the play addresses themes and ideas important to them, such as bullying, internet safety, cyberbullying, self-acceptance, friendship and fitting in. Previous shows have also delved into deep and meaningful material, including themes of immigration, friendship, residential schools in BC and multicultural understandings.
With the talent show as a backdrop the students incorporated other performance mediums as well, they learned to tango, participated in a group drumming piece, sang and those with musical talent accompanied songs on guitar.
The production enjoyed four performances in Vancouver Technical Secondary's lovely refurbished auditorium and was very well attended. Parents, teachers, and school groups were there along with School Board Trustees Mike Lombardi, Patti Bacchus and Alan Blakey who also each caught a performance.
After each performance the audience was invited to participate in a Q&A about the production. Instead of merely being silent viewers, the audience participates in a discussion about the thought provoking material presented to them on stage.
Not only are the students given the opportunity to flex their artistic muscles, and express themselves, but the proceeds from their performances are donated to a variety of local charities. Kids Help Phone, received $1048 this year. In previous years Queen Alexandra has also donated to organizations such as Shelterbox, providers of tents and cooking equipment to disaster victims and to SUCCESS, a local non-profit organization focusing on issues affecting recent immigrants as they make their new lives in a new country.
Next year Queen Alexandra is sure to have another enthusiastic class creating a fantastic new play. Don't forget to visit their website to find out when the next production will be: http://queenalexandra.vsb.bc.ca/