“Alright, actors, let’s begin with a warm up!” said Lower School Arts Integrator and Drama teacher Sarah Bellantoni to initiate the start of Drama class.
The Class 3 students excitedly rose from their seats and stood six feet apart in a neutral position with their arms and hands at their sides.
“Okay, big breath, neutral…now tiger ready to pounce!” As Ms. Bellantoni revealed their instructions, the students pulled their hands up to their faces, shaping them into claws, and scrunched up their faces to depict an angry tiger.
After a few moments, Ms. Bellantoni again said, “Neutral!” and the students fell back to their initial state. “Now…football player!” On cue, the younger actors began to jog in place.
She then asked a student to pick their next acting warm up. One student exclaimed, “Like you just woke up from a nap!” Ms. Bellantoni repeated her cues and students stretched their arms above their heads, yawning theatrically.
These fun exercises were in preparation of their story share set to take place this afternoon. Each student was to act out a story inspired by their own lives, using important tools such as emotion, dialogue and setting.
“Remember a story is a gift,” Ms. Bellantoni stated to the class. “Be thankful to hear it. It takes a lot of courage to share. And it’s your story! So, give yourself a pat on the back just for telling it!”
Ms. Bellantoni continued, “Now, we need a brave soul to be our first…” Before she could even finish her sentence, almost every hand shot into the air.
The class was pulsing with enthusiasm and high energy. “Wow, I’m so impressed!” Quickly, Ms. Bellantoni created a schedule of performers, counted down from 3 and called, “Action!” and thus, the story share had commenced.
The first student proudly marched up to the make-shift stage inside the classroom, which displayed special pink lights and props, designed to look just like the Black Box Theater. She began to tell her tale about a competition she participated in. “Before I went on, I was nervous. I told my dad my tummy hurt and I didn’t want to do the competition anymore.” She explained that her dad offered words of encouragement and, ultimately, she did her routine – for which she won second place!
The next actor told a special birthday tale. “The sun was shining through the window pane,” she began, painting a picture for her audience.
Another student acted out a trip to Costa Rica with her family and cousins. With heartfelt emotion, she described when her sister fell during a hike. “I was so scared because we had to go to the ER,” she said. Then her tone shifted to relief, as she revealed her sister was going to be just fine.
Each young actor took the stage with confidence and delight as friends cheered them on from their seats. The superb stories continued, ranging from Christmas morning, a trip to London, to a sleepwalking episode.
“There was so much amazing story telling in this room today!” Ms. Bellantoni applauded. For the final few minutes of class, she instructed students to split into physically distanced pairs for a reflection. Students used this time to thoughtfully discuss how it felt to share, to hear their classmates’ stories, and describe one that stuck with them. One actor noted that her friend’s story made her think of similar moments in her own life. Another complimented her classmates’ acting abilities.
As the clock struck 2 p.m., the actors returned to their seats. Although disappointed that their animated lesson had come to an end, the students bid farewell to their teacher, eager for their next exciting Drama class!