Monday, February 10, 2020

The Bully of Baker Street: Week One

Oliver Hazard Perry Elementary
The tour has been on the road for one week. Today the acting company had an entire day off, and like true Millennials they spent it working double shifts at their designated restaurants and ride sharing.

In the past week they had three public performances and six schools. This week they will have three public performances and eight schools. It’s a big job, load-in and putting up the set, performing the show, tearing it down and heading to a second site to do it all again. They are professionals, and they’re each doing such excellent work.

Response has been very positive. We provide evaluations to teachers at school and each of our adult audience members at public venues.

In response to the question, what did you like most about the production, many teachers responded along these lines:
  • The way the characters connected with the students during the Q & A following the play.
  • The interactive aspect of the play and the period costumes and sets.
  • The message and the way it was delivered through theater!
And the message is getting through. Following the post-show discussion led by the acting company at our first performance at a Cleveland Metropolitan School, the Curriculum Instruction Specialist took a moment to address the students. She asked specific questions about the choices the characters in the play made, which communicated to me how closely she had followed the story.

She summed up by reminding the students, “It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.”

Talespinner Children's Theatre
Photo by Liz Steward
When asked what they liked least about the production, I did hear this comment more than once:
  • May have been a bit over the head of some of our K and 1st
I admit, this may be true. However, when the student audience includes higher grades, the response from the older kids appears to clue the younger ones in on developments they might otherwise miss.

Most remarkable was the teacher who reported that they took materials found in the teacher resource guide -- the Arthur Conan Doyle biography, the “biography” of Sherlock Holmes, and my own playwright’s notes about my youthful experiences with the detective -- to create her own “Cliff’s Notes” chronology tracing the artistic synthesis from the Victorian era to that day’s performance of our production.

She made this for third graders! I want to get a copy of that. Public reaction has also been very good, with audience members praising the, “excellent actors,” and the period costumes and music. They like the “audience interaction” and “the ‘choose your own adventure’ aspect” of the play script.

Also, kids are surprised to learn that the woman playing Miss Barnaby is also the artist lady!

My favorite comment so far was from the guy at the Heights Library whose favorite part was Vicky “calling out Sherlock on his BS.”

To be continued.

Great Lakes Theater's next FREE public performance of the “Classics On Tour” production of “Sherlock Holmes Meets the Bully of Baker Street” will be Saturday, February 15, 2020 at 2:00 PM at the Domonkas Branch of the Lorain Library System, 4125 E. Lake Road, Sheffield Lake.

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