by Haley Flanders, dramaturg
One of the unique privileges of dramaturging a Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA) production is the chance to create a teacher’s packet for the elementary teachers who plan on bringing their class to the show when it tours to their school. I therefore had the challenging, yet rewarding opportunity to present the history, themes, structure, and enticing staging elements of The Fisherman and His Wife in a way that would equally excite and educate Kindergarten through 4th grade students. I would like to share some of the games and activity ideas I chose – ones you can play after taking your youngsters to the show. After all, theatre can be entertaining AND educational at the same time!
MAJOR THEME: Be Careful What You Wish For.
GAME: Mad Libs (Visit www.madlibs.com for some prompts.)
Isabel’s wishes have a dramatic effect on the events of the entire story. Her simple choice of words changes her whole world over and over again, and her personality and relationship with the fisherman is greatly altered due to her greedy wishes. This game emphasizes the importance of choices within a story, and how words can lead to great consequences. It also encourages the students to wish for certain events to happen, and to make it so. Yet much like the fisherman and Isabel, who were never instantly aware of the consequences of their choices, the students will not know the result of their word wishes until the entire story is read aloud. Then much like the fisherman returning home from the seashore to see how crazy his life has become, the students will see how crazy their story has become by their many choices!
ACTIVITY: Draw a picture of what you would wish for if you were the fisherman, happening upon an enchanted flounder that can grant wishes.
HISTORY: Adaptation in Storytelling
Since The Fisherman and His Wife is a fairytale collected and written down by the Brothers Grimm, it is possible that these brothers changed it from the way they first heard it on their travels. This game represents how stories are heard, adapted, and passed down throughout time, often experiencing changes as different people hear and tell the story to fit their own interpretation in that time and place.
ACTIVITY: Write your OWN adaptation of a popular fairytale
The basic plot of The Fisherman and His Wife—a magical fish granting wishes to a poor married couple—can be found in folklore from other countries throughout history. Moreover, the Brothers Grimm did not come up with any of their fairytales on their own. Sometimes they read it in other formats, such as poems, then wrote their own version for their collection. Sometimes they heard a story and scribed what they remembered, or what they understood. Today, tons of fairytales are still adapted and altered for books, television, movies, and cartoons, in order to fit today’s setting. This activity is a fun way to challenge your students’ creativity and imagination, and see how they choose to adapt these fairytales for today’s audiences.
But I’m not the only one with the challenge to create learning activities for the students.
Check back to see what workshops the cast is working on to take to the 3rd grade classrooms!