Monday, October 15, 2012

Gulliver's Travels... middle school style.

My daughter as a drunkard.

Lily happily participated in a very impressive middle school production of Gulliver's Travels last weekend and had a wonderful time with it. She was thrilled to play three parts...

Dranic - a drunkard
Prosecutor Horse- A Houyhnhnm; an excellent and totally rational horse
Flimnap- lord high treasurer of Lilliput

Mary was also very happy to to be the assistant director of the production. She loves working with kids and all things theatrical- so assistant directing a middle school play was a rewarding fit for our high school senior. Lily also thought it was pretty cool to have her big sis so involved.

 Jonathon Swift wrote Gulliver's Travels 392 years ago, so while it's an important and relevant play, it's is also quite challenging, however, I have learned never to underestimate the strength and power of middle school kids when it comes to drama. They were committed and quite cool with Swift although they were asked to remember some extremely complicated lines... just the names of Swift's characters were difficult enough... while I realize that it is a satire and ridiculous by definition... the young actors referred to the emperor by name... "Golbasto Momaren Evlame Gurdilo Shefin Mully Ully Gue."
You must admit, it hardly rolls off the tongue.

One of my favorite parts of the play, was the introduction of the houyhnhnms, which Swift characterized as brilliant speaking horses who ruled over the Yahoos.*
(Yahoos themselves were rude, unsophisticated and uncouth and apparently needed super smart horses as lord and rulers)
  To play the horses the young actors manipulated life size horse head puppets that were designed and built by another student Meg M.
Meg, also a senior and a good pal of Mary's... is a girl of many talents, including art and design. I have no idea how someone so young could design and facilitate such fantastic puppets (watch out, Julie Taymor) but she did, and they were were terrific.
The four smartypants speaking horses stand in judgement. 

One of the best parts about this production, was that it was such a great collaboration of students of  many different ages and talents. From the 10 year old actors to the high school seniors, each student understood the importance of supporting each other... being helpful without being bossy wasn't always easy, it was necessary, and the kids did a great job in learning this skill that will serve them for a lifetime.  

Personally, I was most happy and relieved on Lily's behalf that the Monday that she was scheduled to begin her bout with orthodontia was following the play instead of before. The language of Swift is challenging enough- but delivering those lines with a mouth full of brand new braces would be next to impossible!
Here is Lily outside her orthodontists office they very next morning...
Oh, the added complications of being a middle school actor! 

* to Jane.... did you know that Swift came up with the term "Yahoos?" I thought you would enjoy that factoid!

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