A Report from The Stanton School: Telling the Story of Lear

(This post is by Adriana Nocco, BMC class of 2016.)

Today at Stanton we warmed up with the chair game, and played around with having specific restrictions/rules in place (example: being required to move gracefully, being required to make direct eye contact with another person before getting up out of one’s chair). We then played around with having absolutely no restrictions whatsoever.

We then spent the remainder of our time together working to create an existential, campfire storytelling sort of version of King Lear. Each Stanton group was responsible for telling the specific act that they’ve been working on (Roz and I were responsible for Act 5). Each person was also responsible for creating at least one “illumination” (as their Lear character) during an act that was different than the one they were telling with their Stanton group, and Catharine, as Lear, was responsible for creating an illumination/disruption for every act. The “illuminations” were meant to enhance/go beyond the story, and were representations of the introspective, internal lives of our Lear characters.

The experience of creating this “campfire” felt incredibly evocative and meaningful. It allowed us to visualize both the literal events that occur during the play and the introspective events that occur inside the minds of the characters. I thought it was especially fascinating to catch a glimpse into the secret lives and struggles of each person’s Lear character, which we never get to do while simply reading our lines aloud. This experience also allowed us to really feel the weight of the numerous deaths that have occurred by the end of the play, to which we sometimes feel desensitized due to their sheer number and to our constant, direct involvement in them as our Lear characters.

A Report From Rehearsal: Exploring the Play as God’s Spies

(This post is by Adriana Nocco, BMC class of 2016.)

We started our meeting with a check-in (in which Mark coined the word “frumple-jumpled”) and a discussion about the gear we will need to outfit ourselves for our Iceland trip. I can’t believe it’s only two weeks away!

Next, we laid down flat on our backs and conducted a meditation exercise in order to get in touch with our God’s spy character identities (exploring/observing landscapes, situations, etc. in our minds as God’s spies). Mark guided us as we explored the super privileged worldviews of our God’s spy characters, and at one point, read King Lear’s “God’s spies” speech to us as we meditated for inspiration.

Lastly, we relocated to the Teaching Theater to work at our table, a.k.a. the place where God’s spies meet once a year to discuss our observations and perform. We were assigned specific seats at the table for the first time, and got to work with microphones as well (handheld, mostly on  stands). We worked on transitioning between our God’s spy characters and our Lear characters (“leaning into” the different types of characters at specific moments of our choosing), and also worked on building telepathic connections. In order to expand our God’s spy toolbox, we played with eye contact and movement, played the “chair game” out in the Atrium at one point, and did our best to remain open and focused.

I have provided a picture I took from the point of view of my chair at the table, and a picture of the text from Lear interspersed with “God’s spy prayers” (formed from Lear dialogue). We explored and worked with saying these prayers in the first sphere as Lear and Kent argue during the first scene of the play.

Adriana's God Spy photo

Adriana's text photo

A Report From the Stanton School: Getting to Know the Eighth Graders

(This post is by Adriana Nocco, BMC class of 2016.)

STANTON SUCCESSES: Started to break the ice and get to know the students’ outside interests and talents. Tayjonna showed Anita and me pictures from the Black History Month Wax Museum they’d held earlier in the week. She played Josephine Baker. Azema sang for  Roz, Anita, and me under one condition: We had to cover our eyes. Hopefully Yassir and Itez will agree to sing for us next time. It’s a process.

We collectively were able to encourage eighth graders to fully engage their bodies in our work, especially in the context of our Six Picture Lear Stories. As Mark mentioned during our reflection time on Friday, that is a HUGE accomplishment!

STANTON CHALLENGES: We can’t compete with an NBA player’s presence. The students were somewhat distracted, but who could blame them?

FOR THE FUTURE: When we take the students on a tour of Bryn Mawr, we want to make sure we help them see college as more than just a series of gorgeous buildings. We want them to see it as a real future possibility.

LEAR WORK: We finished reading through all of King Lear as our characters (which was pretty cool). It’s weird knowing that Lear will soon be significantly cut so that each act is only ten minutes long as opposed to forty five. However, I’m excited to see the new piece that will formulate as a result of said cuts, and all the discoveries that we will make about the ecologically conscious world of the play and our God’s spy characters’ places within it.