Marburn Academy Faculty Collaborates with Students to Design Original Theater Production of Children’s Book
– Chameleon’s Colors debut on November 20 –
On November 20, Marburn Academy debuted the school’s fifth original theater production out of a unique collaboration between teachers and Lower Division students.
Marburn Academy is an independent day school devoted to serving the educational needs of students who learn differently due to dyslexia, ADHD, and executive function difficulties. The Lower Division production allows Marburn students an emotionally safe and supportive environment to explore new skills and identify strategies to overcome challenges outside of the academic classroom setting.
Each year, dramatic arts teacher, Mr. Kevin Fish thoughtfully selects a children’s book that introduces students to new cultures, teaches them about different traditions or shares the values of diversity and inclusion. This year’s performances were based on the children’s book, Chameleon’s Colors, by Chisato Tashiro, a story about a chameleon who feels left out because he keeps changing colors and no one notices him. After 8 weeks of preparation, performances took place on Wednesday, November 20 and Thursday, November 21 from 4:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Under the direction of Mr. Fish along with co-director, Mrs. Michelle Lewis and with the assistance of music teacher, Mrs. Rachel Ammons, 29 students in grades 1–5 performed. Each student is asked to identify how they’d like to participate in the play and is encouraged to explore roles that feel empowering to them.
“While some students are excited to sing a solo, others are interested in supporting the cast as part of the stage crew,” said Mr. Fish. “Based on their responses, I begin building the production around students’ personalities and specific interests. Every word, lyric, and note in the score are a collaboration of student input and faculty creation.”
Throughout the process, students who have no lines sometimes decide they’d like to speak, or after a few rehearsals, a student with only speaking lines may want to be included in the musical portion. From the simplicity of adding a student to the musical ensemble to the complexity of creating new characters, Mr. Fish graciously adapts the production. These adaptations give students the chance to try something new that may spark inspiration and leverage a new-found strength.
Making characters come to life isn’t something new to Mr. Fish. A graduate of the University of Connecticut’s Puppet Arts program, he has worked in Dramatic Arts since 1990. He uses his puppetry experience to create masks and puppets. His background in character design for stop motion animation contributes to his skills in crafting creative stories and building engaging characters.
Through his unique process of building a production from the ground up, Mr. Fish is providing students with an opportunity to contribute in a way that feels comfortable to them. He’s giving them the space to explore new experiences, find what resonates with them, and identify creative ideas that awaken their potential.
His passion for students and storytelling is evident. His creativity shines in every production. His humble disposition and kind heart are critical for helping students build confidence and find their voice.
Production of the Lower Division play at Marburn Academy is an exclusive experience that is designed to support students who learn differently in an environment that allows them to shine.