When the coronavirus pandemic rang down the curtain on their slated production of “Alice in Wonderland,” the Boston College students in Luke Jorgensen’s Theatre for Youth course wanted to ensure that, somehow, a show would go on for their audience of local K-3 students.
The 16-member cast pivoted their plans, instead making home videos of themselves telling their favorite fairy tales, which Jorgensen—an associate professor of the practice and assistant chair of the Boston College Theatre Department—shared with teachers at the nine area schools at which the class was scheduled to perform this spring, including two on-campus locations: BC's Child Care Center and Campus School.
“The students in the schools we visit look forward to our performances,” said Jorgensen, adding that it was important for his class to honor its commitment, since the teachers often use the visit as the center of a curriculum, reading the play or story to their classes before the BC performance.
The students’ retooled “production” is playing to a wide virtual audience eager to be entertained by the talented thespians—most of them Theatre Department majors and minors—who used imaginative props and other effects to put creative spins on such classics as “The Three Little Pigs,” “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” and “The Little Mermaid.”
“I made the stories available not only to all the teachers, but also online [at the “Fairy Tales for Free” Facebook group] for anyone to use in classrooms or at home to amuse their kids,” Jorgensen said. “They are going all over!”
Within a week, 160 people joined the group, and many more teachers have contacted Jorgensen to request the video.
“I recited ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears’ and made a little movie to go along with it,” said Deborah Aboaba ’21. “I used effects from the Mac photo booth app. I wanted to make something that would make a child smile. The filters on Macs always make me laugh, so I figured it would be the same for children. I can imagine this pandemic is really confusing for a child, so any levity or distraction I can offer, no matter if only one child sees it, is what I wanted to accomplish.”
“My hope is that kids will have fun watching us tell these stories. If we could help kids feel a little more brave with our fairy tale home videos, especially during this uncertain point in history, that would be incredible.”
Among the local schools whose students are viewing the fairy tales are Saint Columbkille Partnership School, Thomas A. Edison Middle School, Winship Elementary School, and Baldwin Early Learning Pilot Academy in Brighton; Young Achievers Science and Math Pilot School, Mattahunt Elementary School, and Mildred Avenue Middle School in Boston's Mattapan neighborhood; and Nabnasset Elementary School in Westford. The videos also will be featured at the University's upcoming virtual Arts Festival, April 23-25.
Senior Michelle Zhou chose a personal childhood favorite, “The Princess and the Pea,” for its message of hope and courage.
“My hope is that kids will have fun watching us tell these stories. If we could help kids feel a little more brave with our fairy tale home videos, especially during this uncertain point in history, that would be incredible. I am so grateful that even though we are apart, our class is able to come together and share stories. I'm so glad we have the opportunity to share our joy of storytelling and performing with others.”
“I have had wonderful feedback from teachers and terrific comments on the Facebook page,” Jorgensen said. “It is obviously less than ideal compared with performing and interacting with the children in person, but I am proud that we were able to honor our commitment to the children of the BC community and beyond. The show, as they say, must go on!”
For more on the project, or to request the video, email Jorgensen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rosanne Pellegrini | University Communications | April 2020