A Teaching Tool for Discovering Self-Awareness through Social Emotional Learning
Whether it’s middle school theater class or the high school play, practicing theater in school helps guide us through all of the ups and downs that life brings us. The year 2020 has forced so many of our young people to grow-up quickly. Our relationship with time has certainly been altered. Since March 2020, there were points the months seemed like years, or was that just me? The major events the world has experienced has had many focus in on what is important; family, love, and what we do with our time. So many of us had to experience the loss of those we hold dear in a way that is not easily explained.
These feelings had me return to the play TUCK EVERLASTING by Mark Frattaroli, adapted from the novel by Natalie Babbitt. The themes of this play, civilization vs. nature, time vs. death, and growing up have been brought to the forefront of our daily lives. The main character, Winnie, is navigating growing up and discovering what is important to her. I wondered if exploring TUCK EVERLASTING in class or in production could be a tool for teachers and directors looking to layer in Social Emotional Learning to their curriculum.
Self-awareness is a key tenet in SEL. Giving young people the space and ability to become aware of their own opinions and feelings could be so helpful to them navigating the hurdles of pandemic life. Since we are all experiencing school in different ways this Fall, I thought I would share a few starting points for you to apply to your unique learning environment. If there is anything we at Stage Partners have learned about theater teachers in the last year, it is that they can make theater happen in ANY medium.
Here are some ideas for using TUCK EVERLASTING in your classroom to get you started, be it virtual or in-person.
- When have you felt trapped like Winnie Foster?
- What are the pros and cons of living forever?
- What lengths would you go to keep a secret?
- Are the Tuck’s doing the right thing by keeping the spring a secret?
Journal Writing & Essay Questions:
- What would you do with boundless time? What would you learn?
- At what point in your life are you all grown up?
- How do you change with age?
Writing a Character Monologue:
- From the point of view of Winnie Foster on her 17th birthday: Should I drink the water?
- From the point of view of Jesse Tuck: How will I change the world since I have all of the time in the world?
- From the point of view of The Stranger in the Yellow Suit: Why do I want to live forever? What will I do with this knowledge?
Thank you for considering incorporating some of the points of Social Emotional Learning in your classroom. We know so much has landed on your plate. We appreciate all you do for our young people. If you would like to share how you incorporate Social Emotional Learning into your class, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Play:
By Mark Frattaroli
Adapted from the novel by Natalie Babbitt
In 1880, 10-year-old Winnie Foster, trapped by the rules imposed by her strait-laced family, runs away and discovers the humble Tucks who had accidentally stumbled upon a spring long ago that gave them eternal life. Winnie promises to keep their dangerous secret but then a sinister stranger in a yellow suit arrives at their door with intentions to steal the immortal water for himself. Ultimately Winnie must choose whether or not to drink the immortal water and join them in an everlasting adventure – or live on in a natural way, living a life full of the ordinary beauty of growth and change.
65-80 minutes. 8-20 actors possible.
Maria McConville has been a NYC Public School teaching artist since 2005. In the past she has worked with the Theatre Development Fund, LeAP! Onstage, and Periwinkle Theater for Youth, and as a Shakespeare and Playwriting teaching artist with Theatre For A New Audience. Her students have performed and adapted the work of Shakespeare, written their own plays, devised ensemble performance pieces, sang and danced in musical productions, and performed their peers work on a Broadway stage. Maria is also the playwright of #Censored and #Viral (Stage Partners) and other plays.