Linda Coakley, a seasoned director, playwright and facilitator for several arts programs, has been collecting tales from around the world for 25 years. She says she realized the reason why when she met with enthusiastic young actors recently.
“I said to myself, it’s time, when I saw these firecrackers.”
She met with Grade 5 Meadowfields School students after school at Th’YARC for six weeks, teaching dramatic story telling. During the program each student was instructed to select a significant prop and costume.
The students performed for parents, as well as other schools, in late February, presenting tales from Hawaii, Korea, Denmark, India and other countries. The audience was instructed to sit on stage during performances to create a more intimate experience.
“You really want the relationship to be a deep and rich one. The closer you are, the more you connect,” said Coakley.
Through another arts program (Perform!), she taught Grade 4, 5, and 6 students at Arcadia Consolidated School. The young performers entertained classmates with their Drones to Dreamers play about inventors and inventions of Atlantic Canada at the conclusion of the program. The participants created handmade decorated top hats for the show.
Ask Coakley how the children are benefitting from these acting experiences and the words come tumbling out.
“Three language arts teachers were here last night and they said, we are seeing these children in new ways. The confidence this has given them… the expression on faces that we haven’t seen in more timid and reserved children.
“I like the energy exchange with the audience. Also, you know you need good eye contact, how to pause and understand rate and volume… in any profession.
“They learn to respect each other and it builds listening and critical thinking skills,” she said.
The Tales and Tellers project was funded through Nova Scotia Tourism and Culture. Perform! is a program of Theatre Nova Scotia.