Happy Halloween! Now that that’s out of the way, this post has nothing to do with Halloween. Why? Because I had another PD today for Disney Theatricals and what we learned was way more exciting than naughty nurses and candy corn, which is saying a lot. (Especially for those of you who know how much I love naughty nurses candy corn)
If you don’t like geeking out over education or The Lion King, then you shouldn’t read this post. What you should do instead is look in the mirror and try to figure out what’s wrong with you!
The Lion King Experience is Disney Theatricals newest and biggest educational initiative, and it’s incredible. The short version is this: when you purchase the rights to either The Lion King Kids or The Lion King Jr., you get The Lion King Experience FOR FREE! “But what is The Lion King Experience?”
I’m so glad you asked.
The Lion King Experience is an introduction to musical theatre, using the world of The Lion King as its foundation. While it would be incredibly exciting for the most experienced middle school drama teacher to use, it is equally exciting and accessible for someone to facilitate that has never worked on a show, ever!
Each lesson begins with a DVD featuring two actors from The Lion King tour. They introduce the lesson of the day, and the teacher then guides them through a group activity. Students then break into their prides, smaller groups that they will remain in throughout the experience. There is a group lesson, followed by a time of sharing, and then the individual students journal, finishing up the lesson on a more personal level. And each lesson, for lack of a better word, builds upon the last.
Confused? Try this in for size. There’s a unit on the role of the book writer of a show. After the video and group activity, each pride is given a one sentence topic for a scene which they then script together. The next lesson is on the role of the composer. The students go back to the scene they wrote in the previous session and find a moment that could be elevated into song, and the prides work together to write their lyrics. The next lesson? Choreography. You guessed it–the students are choreographing the songs they composed. So in three short lessons, students have written a scene, complete with an original, fully-choreographed song. They also learn about costume design, make-up and masks, sound design, and the list just goes on. And all of it takes place in the world of The Lion King. Can you imagine the knowledge these kids will have when they start rehearsals? And what a great way to get kids who may not be interested in performing excited about the show! One kid might shine when designing masks, and another might find the use and placement of microphones thrilling, and then you’ve got a team of tiny, little helpers ready to lend a hand.
For the PD, we broke into pairs and each group had one lesson to work with. We had twenty minutes to come up with a five minute presentation for the rest of the group, where we could either speed through, show some of the video, activate a group exercise, or any combination of the above. There is too much material for us all to ingest it in one sitting, so this was the best way for us to all leave with a good idea about the program. And I can’t tell you how excited and giddy we all were; a group of adults walking around the room like hyenas, beating djembes, and dancing like hornbills. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love my job!
Oh, and Happy Halloween!