Fourth and fifth grade students painted sets, wrote scripts, created costumes, memorized lines, managed technical aspects, and performed for teachers and peers at the annual Eastern Mennonite Elementary School Dessert Theater this year. A video for parents took the place of the usual evening performance; snacks in to-go cups replaced the more formal desserts enjoyed in pre-COVID days.
Despite the limitations, everyone appreciated the show, those watching, and those who made the production possible.
“It’s important to me that kids start right away seeing theatre as an integrated art,” said said director and music teacher Joy Anderson.
“This year we adapted two story books instead of full plays, due to microphone limitations with an outdoor performance,” Anderson explained.
Fifth graders performed What Really Happened to Humpty by Jeanie Franz Ransom, and the fourth grade performed Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees.
Leading up to the show, students helped with set construction under the direction of volunteer Ethan Zook ’72, supporter of EMS theatre. Students also helped with painting, costume design and adaptation of the story books into scripts.
“We also had a stage and props team, as well as tech team that ran sound almost independently,” said Anderson.
And, continued Anderson, who directs middle and high school productions as well, “We now have a set of rehearsal cubes we can use in the theatre department that our fifth graders will remember building… We also have some budding tech folks!” she noted with enthusiasm.