6th Graders Joust! Before a Live Audience

by Michael Porter
At JCDS, art often follows fact. The 6th grade show Joust! was a jolly funny showcase of live music, singing, theatrics, and clever plot and dialogue. The show came on the heels of the students' unit on medieval Europe in their Global Studies class.
On their recent field trip to the Hoggetown Medieval Faire in Gainesville, the students were able to experience authentic music, dancing, an obnoxious jester, and actual full-armored jousting!

Music Specialist Jessica Barker wanted to find a show that, in addition to tying into their curriculum, actually gave the 6th graders the experience of a true musical -- with lots of lines, funny characters, and an intriguing plot line.
"This show was a perfect fit," Ms. Barker said. "It highlighted the joy and humor of our 6th grade class while also showcasing their individual strengths and talents."
Before rehearsals began, Ms. Barker had the students fill out a Google survey to get an idea of their strengths and interests. She used this and her observations from two years of music classes to assign roles.

Students learned about theatre movement such as "upstage" and "downstage". As in any group effort, an enormous amount of teamwork was required to pull it off successfully.
As many of the students indicated an interest in dancing or doing tricks, Dance Manager Lexie Bristol put them to work! She choreographed the intricate sword dance, and the various acrobatics performed by the joyous band of jesters!
Theatre is very much a group effort, with every person contributing in some way to the overall effort.

In addition to the acting, singing, and dancing, a number of students demonstrated their talents by playing musical instruments as either accompaniment or on-stage as part of the story. Students showed their prowess on the piano, French horn, xylophones, percussion instruments, and recorders. This added an entirely new dimension to the show as the actors also served as the orchestra.
In early rehearsals, Jack H. (who played King Arthur) suggested they add a bit to his first decree as king. He commanded Sir Hector to procure the kingdom's largest chocolate bar.
"I thought it was a funny addition so we added it to the script," said Ms. Barker.
At dress rehearsal, Jack got the idea that the play needed a "big moment" at the end, so they added the scene with the even larger chocolate bar. (Jack had the cast members sign it after the show and kept it as a souvenir).
During the performance, Ms. Barker heard some unexpected laughter from the audience. She looked up to see Addison A. giggling. Apparently, the jester launched her SHOE across the stage by accident. Or was it part of the jester's schtick?
"I am hopping around trying to get my shoe on, and my friends are dying laughing," remembers Addison. "And then I move on and pretend like it never happened. And it WAS an accident!"