Being a member of the Governing Board at Hayley’s school, I received an email one day asking us to vote on approving a last-minute field trip for grades one through six. The trip was to go see a play called “Simon and the Egg” which is about the environment, climate change, and how we’re all responsible for doing our part to help out.
I immediately said yes because it sounded like a good idea – many kids haven’t seen a play at that age and anything that brings about awareness for environmental causes is okay in my book. When I received the permission slip, I signed it, slipped the small fee into an envelope and sent it off with a little note telling Hayley’s teacher to let me know if she needed a volunteer.
The trip was divided over three days with grades one and two attending the play on Monday. First I received a call at 9 am and her teacher told me that she had received confirmation from one of the moms and she wouldn’t need me this time. No problem. Not five minutes later she called back to tell me the other grade two class had no volunteer because the mom was at home with two sick kids, and would I mind going with them?
Well, no I wouldn’t mind one bit. I know most of those kids by this point anyway and was happy to go with them. The best part was that Hayley didn’t even know I was coming so she almost fell over in shock when she passed me in the hallway and saw that I was there. She was a little annoyed that I wasn’t volunteering for her class but we were all on the same bus and the theater was very small so it didn’t make much difference in the end.
The theater we went to was incredible because it’s an very small venue. There isn’t even a stage for the play, it’s performed directly on the floor, right in front of you. You get to sit so close that you almost feel like you’re a part of the play itself. It was also a one-man show which – as a person who took acting classes once upon a lifetime – always impresses me. Monologues are incredibly scary since you have no one to play off but yourself, your imagination, and your audience, so I give massive props to actor Michel Lefebvre for doing a fantastic job.
The play was probably a little over the heads of the kids because of their ages. The story wasn’t blatant in-your-face “save the environment!” in its message, it was more abstract and I think that they probably didn’th catch all the nuances that the adults and older kids would. Still, it was a totally stunning visual experience which had the entire audience of children enthralled. In all honestly, my own mouth was hanging open more than once just because it was all so beautiful and so well done.
In the end, what I loved most was that it didn’t preach – no one tells you what you need to do, you’re left to figure out for yourself where your responsibilities lie. I like that, especially from an educational viewpoint because it lets you ask the kids questions. On the way back I asked Hayley what she thought we needed to do in general, and she said things like more plants and trees, no littering, picking up garbage… Kids are often more aware than they might appear on the surface.
Overall though, even if the kids didn’t catch as many things as I did, I’m just ecstatic to know that they saw a play. One boy on the bus asked me what a play is when we were driving out there and for this generation to understand, I had to tell him that it’s similar to when characters on television tell you a story except in a play you get the story right in front of you. I don’t think he really got it until he saw it for himself.
Arts aren’t necessarily a top priority in the education system anymore, so knowing that the kids at Hayley’s school are getting to experience some culture and theater made me very happy. It was nine bucks well spent and I’m glad that we, as a board, unanimously voted our approval because I think it was really beneficial.
If you happen to be from the Montreal area, I urge you to check it out yourself, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.