Circus Center to produce a waste reduction assembly performance for elementary aged students. Framed around themes from Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are, four main characters are transported to a land far far away where they learn how to reduce, reuse, recycle, and rot. By the end of their journey, they learn that saving the earth really comes down to a "5th R"- respect.The student producers of Irvington High School's Advanced Drama class have a message- "It's not too late to start saving the earth, but we'd better get started." To help get this message out, students worked with teaching artists from San Francisco's
On Thursday, May 27, Irvington took the show on the road to Olivera elementary school to perform to a packed room of 3rd-6th graders. "We know that the younger students can really look up to high school kids, so we wanted to carry a fun and positive message to the schools," said one of the student producers of the show. "Although our message is, 'It's never too late,' we wanted to start kids off on the right track so we wrote the show to appeal to younger kids." Every aspect of the show carried the waste reduction message as props and costumes were made from found, reused and recycled materials.
In the afternoon, the Advanced Drama class returned to Irvington and brought the message to their peers. "We wanted to tap into pop culture for the show and Jamie and Natasha from the Circus Center really taught us to give larger than life performances," explained one of the actors, "I think those features helped the show play well to high school students too."
Irvington has a strong tradition of engagning students in original, creative work. The school is a visual and performing arts magnet school and challenges all students in performance based assesments like the 9th Grade Change Project. In 9th grade, teams of students work together to examine and address an environmental challenge. Two of the show's writers pointed to their experience in 9th grade as having a direct influence on this show. "In 9th grade, I created a project called, 'Recycling our Future' where I worked with elementary students to creatively reuse materials and turn them into new items," explained one of the writers. "That experience definately helped me think about how to create costumes, props and set pieces for this show."
Back at Olivera, a number of students reported that they were already familiar with the 4Rs, but enjoyed the show nonetheless. "It was a good reminder to do the right thing," declared one 4th grader "The show was really fun- I really wanted to get their autographs!"
As the high school performers reflected on the experience they noted learning stage skills and waste reduction skills side by side. "I never really thought about how important the circus arts are to my acting. I really learned to project my voice and facial features. I also took the waste reduction message home and said, 'Hey mom, don't we have one of those little green bins for food scraps?' 'Why don't we use it?' So my parents started using the green bin. We're still trying to figure out the best system for food scraps, but at least we're trying to figure out a system!"
Indeed, it's not too late to save the earth, but we'd better get started.