Thursday, October 27, 2016

Back in Time - On Stage

the king addresses one of his subjects
approx. 1978
Wheatland High School
Wheatland, WY
I loved teaching at Wheatland: the town and the students were welcoming. One of my assignments at WHS was the drama program, and I had some extremely talented students. The drama class not only acted in the numerous plays, but also designed, built and painted sets, created props, and designed and made costumes.

One year we staged The Mouse that Roared, and instead of renting costumes, I asked my students to design and make costume prototypes, using Barbie and Ken dolls for models. The results were astounding (the boys actually did a better job than the girls at designing and sewing), and we made full-sized costumes from their designs. The king's costume in the photo is one example of their creations.

The fabric for the costumes was salvaged: at the end of the old gymnasium was a stage, and in the storage area under the stage I found huge boxes that contained the old velvet stage curtains (a set of deep blue, and a set of burgundy). I asked permission to cut the curtains to make costumes (yes, much like Maria from the Sound of Music), and during the years I was in Wheatland, we used a LOT of that velvet fabric for costumes and other projects.

Plays staged included: Oklahoma, Godspell, Winnie the Pooh, South Pacific, A Man Called Peter, The Bermuda Triangle, Up the Down Staircase, MASH, Bad Day at Gopher's Breath (a play performed in the school's outdoor courtyard), and many others, including one-act plays.

I collaborated with the music department on all the musicals. Other staff members made up the band for Godspell, and the Industrial Arts department installed the chain link fence for the set. The programs and advertising posters for all the plays were printed in the school's Graphic Arts department. It was fun involving more students and departments in the stage performances.


13 comments:

  1. I wish I had been in your class! Teachers have the ability to make lifelong impressions on their students and I'm certain that the students that were under your tutelage, still speak fondly of their time with you.

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  2. Yes - just like Maria or Scarlet (Gone With the Wind). How wonderful that you did so much with and for your students. I'm sure they have very fond memories (as do you!).

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  3. OKLAHOMA! OK!
    YOu were way ahead of your time with reuse recycle repurpose. Amazing amazing king costume.

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  4. WOW!! what a teacher you were... Your students were truly blessed to have a teacher like you!! And I understand the boys being better than the girls at designing and sewing:)

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  5. What a wonderful teacher you were, including them in everything. I had a tenth grade English teacher like that, Mr. Hopper. I've never forgotten her.
    Blessings,
    Betsy

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  6. Wow! That's an impressive list of plays. Up The Down Staircase is one of my favorites. I wanted to be the actress Sandy Dennis when I was young. Nancy, I am awed by your amazing career!! I really wish you would write a book about your years of teaching.

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  7. What fun! Great teaching memories....:)

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  8. That must have been great fun for you and your students! Around here country kids didn't get to participate because practices were in the evenings. Town kids had all the fun! :)

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  9. The King's costume looks VERY regal!

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  10. Your students were very lucky to have a talented director too! The costume in the photo is very impressive. Drama was definitely outside of my comfort zone although I did direct one play (under protest).

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  11. The king's costume is amazing! I bet the students really enjoyed your drama class.

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  12. Very clever to use the old curtains. Better to use for costuming then to let rot in storage.

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  13. I loved your remembrances of teaching drama! Brought back memories of my high school drama experiences. I only participated in class plays, but the drama club did a fabulous job on other productions!
    Always an event that the whole community attended!

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