What a wonderful 8 days in our neighbourhood! We began our project Monday, with kids from ages 3-18 years making painted butterflies with mini-flashlight tails, to be used as decorations in our final performance. Classical Indian dance moves were taught to the group next by local teen dancers Simran and Rachelle. All the teens were wonderful mentors to the younger fry all week. The last hour of each day was reserved for rehearsals of the edited script of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. On following days we made fairy headbands and more butterflies, continued teaching the youngsters the dance, and began the consuming task of costuming from the many wonderful Indo-inspired fabrics culled (mostly) from Value Village stores. We celebrated one teen’s birthday with cake and pizza. Friday of the first week, we held a preview performance in the day, incorporating a group of ten 3 and 4-year olds (from a local day-care) as the youngest, dancing-est fairies. They looked amazing and so full of joy in their sparkling saris and magical, kooky headbands. We hoped some would return for the final evening performance the following week, and some did, bringing their parents along.
As another one of our lead teen actors had become engaged in another show that was scheduled on the same night we’d hoped to do our final presentation, we opted as a group to continue to work through the weekend and present our final show earlier, on Tuesday, August 19.  This group of teens was truly amazingly committed, and so willing to incorporate whatever new younger kids showed up in the park on any given day. Quite a buzz was going through our neighbourhood–people stopped to ask what was happening, to admire the costumes and the dances, and to laugh at the comic scenes.  Tuesday everyone arrived hours early to help set up the grounds and to rehearse.  More pizza was ordered, fruits, veggies, and juice consumed in large amounts. To the students’ amazement, people began putting down blankets and chairs for the event. A few of our littlest  3-year old fairies arrived with their parents, quite eager to be in the scene with the older 5-to-18 year olds. About 40 audience members arrived and greatly enjoyed the show.  All told, approximately 35 kids were served during the week, with the core group of 15 consistently showing up for (almost) every scheduled rehearsal. One participating boy of about age 11 said, after all was done, “What are we doing next year, Hamlet!?”
The group stayed after to help clean up and recycle, and a small cadre of 5 or the actors helped cart the large assortment of laundry and props back to my home (some had to use the facilities, too–that was the one downside to the week as there are no public washrooms at the park). The joy of shared accomplishment was so palpable that the team seemed not to want to break up and end the evening, so I, happy but exhausted, finally had to coax these hangers-on out the door. It really was a Dream-y evening!

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