For months the older children had been working on creating a production of The Elves and the Shoemaker with Chantal. Even though so much time had passed since they began children remained dedicated to the process and performance. Children created the set, people puppets, elves, and other props in addition to learning the story and lines.
Children were so excited and proud to share their rendition of The Elves and the Shoemaker with the younger children that they asked if they could perform again for their parents. So a date was chosen and children performed once more for a larger audience.
I interviewed the children after the play to find out what they thought and how they felt about certain aspects of the process and production. I recorded their responses and was able to play the recording back for them to hear. They were excited to be interviewed as if they were at a newspaper. Seeing the children's expressions as they heard their own voices was quite interesting. There were smiles and giggles and comments about their own voices.
K: I sound like Z.
R: That doesn’t sound like me. I sound like me cousin.
How did it feel to perform for your family and friends?
I: Well it felt okay and it was really like fun and interesting and kind of a teensy bit scary. But it doesn’t matter if it's scary or not. Umm I liked to uhh saying things. And I really really liked to like do other things too. And my favorite part when R said, “No, I want this cape.” (I pauses to giggle) And P wanted the pink one but R wanted the pink one too and Piper had the pink cape in all the rehearsals. And that's it.
P: It felt like I was doing something kind of scary but not so scary.
Z: Great. Just great.
R: I feeled like I was one of the elves in the book. It was exciting. I never did a show for my mom like that.
What was your favorite part in getting ready for the play?
I: Okay my favorite part of getting ready was making a crown for her and then it fell off and I well, that part was not liking but it's still okay. And I liked to make my puppet and I really really like to um do the things that I did. And after we did the rehearsals we played some games. And that was pretty fun too. And that we got to make the shoe puppets. Mine was a Christmas shoe. And I really really like it. All of it. All of it was pretty fun. And it was the Elves and the Shoemaker but you already know that right (I said while laughing).
P: I liked making the shoes a lot. And I also liked making my people puppet. Chantal like cut out lots of shoes and we stuck a popsicle stick on. And I colored one whole side pink and the other whole side like all different colors. I put a Christmas-y ribbon one side and then like a rainbow ribbon on the other side and a button on the side with the rainbow ribbon. (For the puppet) So we had a paper plate. We cut like parts of the plate and we made them for the ears. We got a round piece of paper and another round piece of paper and put eyeballs inside. And how we made the hair like with cotton and then how we like stuck it on how necks with that we always tie Christmas presents with. And we made the dresses out of fabric.
Z: Umm making our people puppets. We used glue, cloth, and paper plates, and tissue paper.
R: Umm like getting the elf. And waiting for my mom coming.
K: I really liked making my puppets. It was really fun when I got to make the clothes for them and the faces. We used for the clothes fabric and glued little pieces of cloth, rainbow, pink and purple cloth. And for the clothes when it was poor, when they had raggedy clothes. And when them had pretty clothes we used rainbow buttons and sparkly ones and glittery ones and a piece of fabric. And for the faces we used a white ball that was really hard and we wrapped orange tissue paper on and for the hair we used brown reddish wool. And to hold it up we used a stick, a wooden stick.
Z: Making my puppet. We used a ball for the face of the elf and wool for the hair and string for the mouth and a piece of fabric for the eyes and I put a silver gem on both of the eyes that was the same. I used a stick for the body and a pipe cleaner for the arms and for the hands I did wooden beads. Fabric for the dress.
R: Making the puppets. I took a piece of cloth. I laid it on a plate that I decorated. And then I glued it on and I put some hair on. I made a mouth a mustache and a beard.
Were there any challenging or hard parts about getting ready or performing?
I: Well when I was saying something it was a little scary but I got to say something and it felt a little good. It felt good.
P: Well maybe the shoes kind of was. It took really long to put all the paper around the shoes and put the buttons on and the ribbons on.
R: No, its so easy.
K: There was kind of but not a lot. The shoes was kind of hard. We needed to put the tissue papers down and it took me a long time.
R: Yeah, painting the boxes.
Who were you most excited about having at the performance?
I: I really really liked to be there with my mommy watching me.
P: My mom and my dad. And they did come!
Z: My mom because I love her.
R: My mom and C (his brother) cuz I wanted them to come and I wanted them to see the play.
Should we have more performances here at Catskill Wheelhouse? What should we perform?
I: Well I would like to do maybe like Big Al again because I still have my fish puppet, my marionette fish puppet. I wanna do that again. It was fun last time.
P: Yes and the one that I want to do is Ariel. You know what the part I least like is the wizard under the water cuz she said if she wants feet it has to feel like needles are poking her. And she still even danced. And what I want to do also is I wanna do like my ballet performance. I would have to have my ballet teacher that I had last time to come and all the other kids that were with me, if they wanted to come to the ballet performance. I remember toy store, that's one of the dances and scarf dancing.
R: Yeah yeah yeah yeah!! I want another show that's different.
K: Maybe like a fairy one and everyone will dress up like fairies and use fairy wings. I have my rainbow ones at my house. Some can be butterflies, some can be birdies, some can be maybe princesses, some can be flowers, some can be crickets, some can be caterpillars. There would also be puppets.
Z: Yes, like any play.
Self esteem and confidence were built as children became comfortable enough with their parts to perform them for an audience. Children developed their social skills, concentration and cooperation as they chose their parts, worked on the props, and took part in rehearsals. Improvisational skills were stretched as children adapted to changes in the play as people were absent or things went differently than originally planned.
Families be on the look out for more Catskill Wheelhouse performances!
Do your children perform for you at home? What do they like to perform for you and your family?