♥ The Play
The Production of They Kept on Smiling was performed at the Holliswood School on June 19, 2009. My precious class and club acted, sang and danced. While studying how the brain learns, I discovered through the work of Eric Jensen, Teaching with the Brain in Mind, that drama helps children learn. I decided to write a play based on three children’s books that I had written. We included original songs and some famous treasures. It was a dream come true to see the characters that came from my “seed” ideas bloom into incredible fictional characters.
I was inspired by the children’s author and illustrator Ezra Jack Keats. Ezra used his real life for seed ideas and then ran with his imagination. The work of the gifted author and illustrator Tomie dePaola has also been a huge source of inspiration for me. Tomie captures the moments of his own childhood so magnificently. Tomie seems to be able to remember exactly what he felt when he was a child and shares those moments with his readers. That is what I did when I created Nicky L. Sinclair, Appolonia Cardinale, and their friends from 54th Street, Wendy Atlas, Janasia Fitzgerald, and William T. Cardinale. They form a band called Smile and must learn about the virtues that make good character. Their older friends in another band called the Improvisers give them some guidance. Lou Piano, Trane, Benny Bannister, and Sonny R S. remind the younger kids that team work is important. They tell the younger kids that in order to succeed it takes commitment, hard work, and perseverance. The night of the talent show all of the kids are ready to do a great job. Principal Hentoff and Teacher Lucas are so proud of the kids at the fictional Barack Obama School.
My students did a fabulous job in their roles and they had a magnificent time learning by doing. John Dewey would be very proud! It was wonderful to see my second graders collaborating with my third grade Kids for Coltrane Club.
Hey kids why don’t you take a “seed” idea and create cool characters too! Have fun…
The children and I would like to thank all of the parents who helped us practice the lines, created costumes, and made us all feel terrific the day of the show! We would also like to thank Ms. G. and her gifted middle school artists. They created a very colorful and exciting set. Thank you also to the talented dance teacher Michael Pagan who helped us with our fancy footwork throughout the year. And last but certainly not least, we would like to thank the genius Louis Vignapiano for sharing his exquisite music with us.
The kids on 54th Street, in a suburb of New York City with Nicky’s grandma and mom Rosie.
Appolonia Cardinale and Nicky L Sinclair vacationing in VT with their horses Sugarplum and Crusher.
The Improvisers playing at the school..a band which included a character called Trane.
54th Street kids buying ice cream before playing a game of Sculley. Mama Cardinale is watching over the kids.
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