The Boy Who Saw Goodness Where Others Saw Nothing

Posted 31 December 2013 12:00 AM by Masha Obolensky, Target Arts Teaching Artist at the Quincy Elementary School in Chinatown

After our original performance of The Boy Who Saw Good Where Others Saw Nothing, the third grade students that made up the cast of our show each gave me a thank you letter:

“I tried to do my best on stage to let the play be more interesting and successful.”

“Thank you for teaching me my lines – I remember them and I am not scared. I like to act.”

“I was scared to get on stage but now I am not scared.”

“When I went to the Citi performance I felt super excited.”

“I wish when I grow up I will be an actor on stage. I wish that you could stay and teach me more about acting.”

These words fill me with so much joy – I know that through this program, these children have come to understand more about their own potential. An ESL class who started off reticent about this whole acting thing, this group’s enthusiasm grew and grew and before we knew it they were imbuing vocal exercises with loud confident voices and gesture exercises with specific strong movements. In the final performance they did indeed remember their lines – in fact they took ownership of them – each student taking their moment, connecting with each other. And they performed together as an “ensemble” (a word I used often in our rehearsals and one that took on real meaning as we continued to meet) – with efficient transitions, clean stage pictures, clear articulation and a festive final group dance accompanied by a choir singing a song that they themselves had written.

It occurred to me watching them that the value of this kind of work is so difficult to quantify because it is functioning on so many levels. As a mother of a young child it reminds me of the massive growth that happened in my son from birth to year two – each development so engrossing that in order to stop and realize where he was and how far he had come – I would need to refer to a weekly diary I kept. There I would be reminded of what he wasn’t able to do just weeks or months before.

This group of students at Josiah Quincy Elementary took huge leaps in confidence, self-awareness, group dynamics, articulation, and emotional investment. I would like to thank them for their openness and willingness to take personal risks. There were benefits that they might not be fully aware of- but when I look back at my notes, the differences between “before” and “after” are unambiguously there.

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