A fresh take on storybook theater

Camden Hills adaptive art gets theatrical

By Dagney C. Ernest | Jun 16, 2014
Photo by: Dagney C. Ernest Putting the sets and puppets through their paces in the Camden Hills Regional High School adaptive art class are, clockwise from left, Katia Kordek, Jennifer Turner, Russell Kahn, Sam Clark and Samantha Campbell.

Rockport — These are the days when teachers begin to pull out all the creative stops in efforts to keep their summer-focused charges at their desks. This year, the kindergarten and first-grade instructors of Camden-Rockport Elementary School got an assist from the Camden Hills Regional High School’s Transition students in the effort.

In early June, the elementary school students were treated to short puppet shows produced and performed by the Camden Hills students. Transition teacher Anastasia Alley and adaptive art instructor Russell Kahn, assisted by Ed Tech Jennifer Turner and student volunteer Katia Kordek, a sophomore, worked with the Transition students to come up with scripts, create and dress table-top sets and make the “actors” — flat ceramic figurines attached to wooden sticks — for “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” and “The Little Red Hen.”

The production team began working on the project in February. They found short versions of the childhood stories online and reworked them for fun and local connections.

“The Little Red Hen buys her seeds at Renys in Camden, and Goldilocks gets lost in the woods because she’s listening to her iPod,” said Kahn.

Turner explained that some of the students are non-verbal, but helped work on the sets and creating the clay cutouts of the storybook characters that were painted, glazed and “dressed” using fabric scraps. Sam Clark, on the other hand, found he was very comfortable on microphone, serving as narrator and telling a few jokes in-between the short plays.

“Katie [Kunn] really loved the mic, too,” said Kahn.

The plays were presented in the C-RES cafeteria and received plenty of applause from the young audience. Kahn praised teachers Kimberly Wickenden and Jill Starrett for facilitating the visit; and custodians Bob and Jan Calderwood for having everything set up for the lights and sound.

The sets and puppets were left at the school for the rest of the year so students can try doing their own shows. But they will be retrieved and used again next year.

“My hope is that we will really go on the road next year, adding another story or two,” said Kahn.

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