Theatre is the art of story telling and the first story our Middle School Drama students tell is about themselves. Their task was to tell the rest of the class about themselves through a visual and verbal project called The ME COLLAGE.
The ME Collage Project invites students to see themselves as more than just a list of likes and dislikes. It encourages them to think metaphorically about who they are, where they’ve been, and where they want to go. The project is not just for those who have drawing and painting skills. They are invited to consider all shapes and sizes for their work. Of great importance is the challenge to ‘think outside the box’ – or proverbial 2 dimensional poster board. Students are teased with the idea that their project can be so large that it won’t fit through the doors of the classroom. The only limitations are no live animals and it must all be connected.
Given these parameters, or lack thereof, Julia Ku decided to do a large cut out of her pet cat complete with movable eye brows to express her cat’s different emotions. She also had a teardrop that she could raise and lower to further reflect her own emotions as well. She says, “I have to hide the tear of the cat from all the other people trying to break in and see the weaker part of the cat. I wanted to express this kind of feeling that nobody knew I felt before.”
Pontus Sundellin, from Sweden, is still missing some of his favorite activities in his homeland. He created a ski slope complete with chair lift.
Many students think of their lives in some form of a timeline. Most of them will include pictures of their likes and dislikes. 6th grader Nate Astrom took these 2 concepts one step further and used the image of his favorite sport, Baseball, to describe the different places he has lived and the possibility of returning home. He kept the left side of the field and 3rd base open to represent his future plans.
Many of the projects necessitated a talent for metaphoric expression beyond aesthetic skills. 2 students took that challenge to the next level using the image of a garden and a box of chocolates to express their lives.
8th grader Cindy Chen used a box of chocolates to sort through the details of her life. Cindy explains, “There are three categories of chocolates, white, dark, and milk chocolate. Dark chocolate is healthy for you, yet it’s dark and you might not like it. In the dark chocolates section, I put two categories, school and Taiwan, my home country. School is like dark chocolate, because although it is good for you, it gives you a lot of pressure and it’s sometimes dark . My swimming chocolate is a little yellow bean on top of a chocolate surface. This represents myself as an individual, as I am one on the swim team, and the teammates are always there to support me. My last category is milk chocolate. This is my favorite section because it is the sweetest, and my favorite type of chocolate is milk chocolate. I have one pink chocolate and one white chocolate. They are white chocolate because they are Lindor Chocolates, the sweetest type of chocolate in the world.
Sevillana Ettinger, a 7th grader, used a garden as a metaphor of world. She says, “I feel that my life has and always will be based on a garden. So, I took different parts of a garden, and made it connect with myself. For example, the roots of the flower represent my parents and my family, because they made my personality and who I am, just how roots make a flower. I thought it was an okay concept, so I made it visually look like a garden as well.”
As part of their project students then had to 2 minutes to present their projects to their classmates. With such exciting lives, so many pictures and artifacts, complete with amazing depth of symbolism, it was often hard to limit their verbal presentations to such a short period of time. But present they did! And they did it with flair, engaging energy, and gestures that commanded the room. Through creative scriptwriting, careful editing, and colorful improvisation, students presented the lives of their first characters in Theatre Class.. themselves.
Not a bad way to get to know your classmates!