Each year the eighth grade class at Northstar reads the classic tale, A Christmas Carol, and attends the production at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. Theater nut that I am, I was ecstatic to finally have a group of eighth graders so we could attend this year. Charles Dickens uses challenging vocabulary and vivid imagery to create a world that, regardless of time and place, can be understood and remains relative for any audience. In preparation for the play, our 8th grade Humanities class has spent several weeks digging into the five staves of Ebenezer Scrooge’s transformation.
Normally when I begin to blog, I have an idea of where I’m going with the post. I don’t always know how I’ll get there, but I figure it out along the way. I’ve had the first paragraph of this post written for a week now, and for some reason, I can’t figure out where I want to go. I don’t have anything profound or life-changing to say. I just really, really loved spending time with my students experiencing live theater – watching a beautiful production of a story we had spent weeks exploring together come to life.
All of them have experienced live theater before because we have attended productions through the Eau Claire Children’s Theater together. This was different, though. For many of them, it was the first time seeing a really high-quality production with an enormous set decorated in extreme detail, giant moving set pieces, trap doors, and fog machines. The special effects were absolutely incredible and mesmerizing for all of us. When the Ghost of Christmas Past was flown in directly above the left section of the audience, the exclamations from the crowd were just precious. Pure joy.
Reading with my students is absolutely one of my favorite things to do. Diving into a story together offers opportunities for meaningful conversation where we reflect, we debate, we empathize with characters, and we discover new things about each other. Expanding on that experience with theater adds just a little more magic to the mix.
Our 6th and 7th graders are also preparing for a visit to the theater in January. After reading Lois Lowry’s novel, The Giver, we will attend a live production of the story at the brand new Pablo Center in Downtown Eau Claire. For many of them, it will be their first time attending a play. And so the sprinkling of magic begins…
While reflecting on our day at the Guthrie Theater, a student who sat beside me during the production shared with our class, “You guys, Ms. McMahon was smiling the entire time!” The magic of theater lives deep within my heart. Being able to share that with my students is very special to me.