Referring to life in 18th Century Europe, Charles Dickens’ famously opened his novel,
A Tale of Two Cities with the phrase, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of
times…”, and those remarkable and immortal words are what have inspired our new
Learning Contract. Throughout this project, Year 4/5 students immersed themselves
in works of scripted theatre from well-respected works of literature from across many
periods of history. Students learned about Canada’s early history by examining what
was happening at the time their script was first performed. Students were cast in scenes that were either comedic (Best of Times) or tragic (Worst of Times), and had the opportunity to work with peers from other homerooms. Our young actors had classes in acting, text analysis, and theatre history, as well as time to collaboratively rehearse their scenes. We built towards roving performances inspired by the Pageant Wagons of Medieval European theatre. To kick off our work in live theatre performance, we took a field trip to the Knob Hill campus to attend an operatic performance from guest artists. Alongside the development of well-rehearsed and entertaining performances, students had opportunities to enrich their written communication skills, explore the science of chemistry, and examine the nature of fractions. Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, Margaret Atwood, Samuel Beckett, William Congreve, E. B. White, and L. M. Montgomery were some of the sources of scripts for these students. All scenes described either a "Best of Times" or a "Worst of Times" experience for the characters.
Accompanying our theatre scenes, were block prints made by the students that illustrated a symbol from their scene or something that represents their character. In the last image, I had fun making a demonstration of one of my favourite characters from literature - Luna Lovegood!