During the month of November, the fifth graders of St. Pius V School had the incredible opportunity to partner with the Providence College Theatre, Dance, and Film Department for a series of workshops facilitated by PC students in the Children’s Theatre and Creative Drama course. The goal of our collaboration was to introduce the children to drama through creating their own dramatic production from start to finish, while tying in themes from our Reading and Language Arts curriculum, particularly from our novel study of R.J. Palacio’s Wonder.
The first workshop took place at the Smith Center for the Arts on the Providence College campus, where we were able to use the Bowab Black Box Theatre. Students were taught how to brainstorm ideas for and write a play. The second workshop, also on the PC campus, taught students acting and improvisation skills through different activities and scenarios. The third workshop was the culmination of their writing and acting practice. The PC students took the SPV student’s playwriting ideas from the first workshop and wrote a script that combined everyone’s writing. The PC students took their observations of the SPV student’s acting skills from the second workshop to cast the students in their various roles in the play. The workshop consisted of breaking into small groups to read and rehearse, and then coming together to finally perform their full-length dramatic production.
The benefits of this collaboration for the fifth graders of St. Pius V School are immeasurable. They received pointers and gained confidence in their public speaking skills, learned how to accept other people’s ideas while still advocating for their own, and experienced what it is like to have the spotlight shining on them. I had the pleasure of watching my fifth graders mature throughout this too brief collaboration, and I feel indebted to Providence College for gifting us with such a remarkable and memorable experience for my students. Surely this is an elementary school memory they will share with others not only in the months and years to come but especially when they are in college and beyond, reflecting on moments that made an impact on them in their childhood.
Perhaps they can pay it forward to a future generation of SPV students as future “Friars” themselves, as only a fellow alum can hope!