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Drama: So much more than just fun

This Friday and Saturday at 5 p.m. at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts, Treasure Mountain Educational Cooperative students, along with several homeschooled children, will perform a play called “Joseph the Dreamer,” based on the story of Joseph and his many-colored coat from the Old Testament.

For many of these students, acting in plays is as natural as breathing as they’ve acted out dozens of stories for as long as they can remember as a regular part of their school curriculum.

Why is drama such an integral part of the curriculum at TMEC? Starting in preschool, fairy tales and fables are told to the children. After the children hear a story orally, the teacher gives her students the opportunity to act out the story for peers. As the children grow, their performances get more complex. Each year, the length of the plays, the depth of individual characters, and the performance expectations for the children become more challenging. This process helps the children develop strong memory recall, helps them to advance their vocabulary skills, and helps them build a sense of empathy or antipathy for story characters. The children’s imaginations are engaged as they create a performance based on the story they heard.

All these skills, developed from an early age, provide a foundation for academics. Memory recall is necessary for the decoding process when learning to read and write and remembering math facts. Highly developed vocabulary skills come from hearing and subsequently acting out rich stories that aren’t “dumbed down” for the young children. Advanced vocabularies allow the children to engage in complex plots found in most of the great archetypal stories of the world. The more complex the vocabulary, the more vivid and developed the imagination becomes. Following a complex plot and engaging in the story helps children develop critical thinking skills.

Perhaps the most amazing process that takes place during a play is that the children connect very deeply to the human experience. By delving into the characters, whether fictional or characters from history, they are put in the characters’ shoes. In Joseph the Dreamer, the children experience a wide gamut of human emotions when living into the characters. Jacob feels the intense grief of losing a child and then the jubilation of reuniting with his son. Joseph’s brothers experience the regret of acting in cruelty. Joseph experiences the deep longing of someone separated from his family, out of his control. As the ruler of Egypt, Pharaoh experiences the intense sense of responsibility for the well-being and survival of his countrymen. In the end, all the characters experience the joy of reconciliation, as well as the amazing power of love to heal. Through these characters, the children connect to very real, very human experiences.

We invite the entire community to join the students of Treasure Mountain Educational Cooperative this weekend in experiencing this wonderful, family-friendly story.

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