Little PlaywrightsOver the weekend, I had the pleasure of witnessing Imagination Stage’s original production “Little Monsters.” This 90 minute show represented the culmination of a year’s brainstorming, planning, introspection, and collaboration among 4th-6th graders and the Imagination Stage Production Team.
“Little Monsters” is the creative vision of the 4th-6th grade students, sculpted and finessed with the help of the staff. It tells the story of the suspiciously monstrous teachers and students of A.B. Stoker Preparatory School, and the unearthing of their true nature by a group of confident and courageous students. The piece explored themes such bullying, fitting in, and finding your voice.
The Imagination Stage Team included Director Debbi Arseneaux, Playwright Jenn Book Haselswerdt, and Composer/Musical Director Andrew Morrissey. The creative process began in September, and the first 3 months were spent working with the children to develop the theme, storylines, and characters. The play was written over winter break, with rehearsals and refinements beginning in January.
As Director and acting coach, Debbi worked with the students from conception to curtain call. Debbi was continually inspired by how genuinely collaborative their process was, and the powerful result that their combined efforts bore. She remarked,
“Not just the input with the kids, but with the collaborators and the designers. Everyone was really generous with the way they worked, and the designers were extremely creative and enthusiastic with how they supported the creation of this world. We all bounced off of each other’s ideas in a way that was really invigorating and inspiring.” –D. Arseneaux
The first time the kids saw the set, they went nuts and completely fell in love with it. That response came as a result of everyone listening openly and carefully to each other throughout the year.
I was deeply moved by the emotional honesty and hard work that shone through in the production. It was a treat to see the results of their creative collaboration, and bring myself back to when I was 10 years old. It wasn’t easy for me then, and it still isn’t easy. The production was a playful dramatization of the very real issues they deal with. The students’ enthusiasm in communicating and working through these difficulties made for a profoundly uplifting performance.
“Little Monsters” was created as part of Imagination Stage’s “Speak Out On Stage” program. It is an intensive program, but the pride the children took in the play they created showed that the time and brainpower the spent is undeniably rewarding. To learn more, or get involved in a similar production, go to www.imaginationstage.org.