‘Funny things are everywhere’: South Rowan drama students bring Seuss books to life
By Katie Scarvey
Leave it to high school kids to know what elementary school kids find funny: loud flatulence.
Eleven of Sarah Drinkard’s drama students kept the attention of students at Shive Elementary last Thursday with such on-stage antics.
In “The Lorax,” Stephen Carroll as the title character chastises Natasha Arhart as the greedy Once-ler for chopping down the Truffula trees. Because there’s not enough Truffula fruit to go around, the poor Bar-ba-loots, he says, are “getting the crummies because they have gas, and no food, in their tummies.”
Cue rude sound.
Cue hundreds of young audience members to laugh riotously.
Actually, they didn’t need any prompting for that.
“The Lorax” is one of those Seuss works ó unlike “One Fish Two Fish, Red Fish Blue Fish” ó that has a serious message. It’s an environmental morality tale that warns against “the biggering” of everything ó which can have devastating consequences.
The destruction of every single Truffula tree, for example.
Older students got that message.
The youngest students simply enjoyed the action.
“I liked when they chopped down the trees,” said Sarah Jessee after the show ó which was understandable since the falling “trees” (played by students) tumbled quite dramatically, with sound effects.
“The Lorax” was one of three adaptations of Dr. Seuss plays done by Drinkard’s Honors Theatre class in celebration of Read Across America Week.
The other plays performed were “Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?” and “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.”
This is the third year Drinkard’s students have adapted Seuss books into plays.
In previous years, performances were held at the South Rowan Library andthe J.F. Hurley Family YMCA in Salisbury.
This year, Drinkard took the show on the road, performing at Woodleaf, Morgan and Shive elementary schools. Tomorrow, the students will stage one final performance at Hanford Dole Elementary, which had its first performance cancelled because of a snow day.
The show is presented by the Rowan Salisbury Association of Educators and Dr. Sarah Hensley of Rowan-Salisbury Schools.
Before the performance Thursday, Drinkard addressed the students: “Raise your hand if you like to read!”
Hundreds of hands shot up.
Drinkard pointed out that if any of them ever wanted to be in a play, then they’d need to know how to read.
And if you’re one of Drinkard’s students, you have to be able not only to read but to write, translating and adapting the storybook for the stage.
Each student selected a Seuss book and then created a script for it; the class then decided which of the plays should make it to the stage.
Doing the stage adaptations is a good learning experience for her students, Drinkard said.
The students also learn a great deal when they perform the plays in front of a live audience, she added ó like how to pause for audience laughter, which is unpredictable with young kids.
The class was also responsible for creating the props and costumes, which are simple but effective.
Senior Lauren Brown felt the experience has helped her understand how to be “more outgoing and deal with kids.”
You have to be “bigger than life” for young audiences, she said.
“It taught me to go beyond myself for whatever I’m doing,” said senior Tess Shoe.
“I was totally nervous before, but when you hear the first laugh, it takes away all your nervousness.”
“You have to make sure you’re funny and the kids enjoy it,” said senior Natasha Arhart.
“It touched me that the kids liked what we put together,” Arhart added.
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