Brighton The Critical DifferenceArt ClassRACF Logo
Education Fund About BEF Grants, Scholarships & Awards For Donors For Applicants

Council Rock Primary School
French Road Elementary School
Twelve Corners Middle School
Brighton High School
Cultural Life Endowment Fund
David DeHaven Memorial Fellowship
David DeHaven Alpine Ski Scholarship
William Dieck Fund
W. Todd Harper Fund
Alan L. Lewis Fund
Stephen Monk Gift
D. Bradley Smith Art Purchase Award
Tribute Award
Distinguished Alumni Award

Back Two Second Grade Classes Visit Geva

The actors prepare to answer questions from the audience.
After the performance, the actors sat on the edge of the stage to answer questions from the audience. Several of the puppet cast members can be seen in the background.

BEF funded the purchase of tickets and bus transportation to enable two Council Rock classes to attend the performance of a children's play at the Geva Theatre Center. An opportunity to meet the actors and take a backstage tour made this an unforgettable experience for 45 students.

This field trip was proposed by Debra Hildebrand and Laura Abbett, Council Rock teachers who had taught these classes for both first and second grades. These classes stage "informances" throughout the year for parents and friends. At the end of each major unit of study the students perform plays, poems, and songs that relate to the subject matter.

The actors turned the sets around to expose the inner workings to the audience
"Even the sets are puppets," explained the performers, as they turned the sets to expose their inner workings to the audience. The puppets were designed by Puppet Master Douglas N. Paasch of Seattle, Washington.

The children memorize their parts for these productions, and help work out the details of staging, costuming, and timing. This work incorporates many aspects of the New York State Learning Standards:

  • reading and writing
  • listening and speaking
  • art, music, and science

The teachers proposed that their students attend a children's play at Geva Theatre, performed by a nationally-recognized children's theater company as a culminating event in second grade. The play they chose was Panadero: The Baker's Tale, written by José Cruz González and produced by Childsplay, a theater company based in Tempe, Arizona.

Panadero: The Baker's Tale

Panadero: The Baker's Tale is the story of a small Latino boy named Pepito who lives with his family in the United States. Pepito's grandmother fled to the US from Guatemala to escape a harsh military dictatorship. Pepito and his grandmother -- his abuela -- have a close relationship filled with hours of storytelling of her Central American homeland. When his grandmother dies, Pepito mourns her in his own way: with a wonderful dream adventure. The dream gives him the insight and energy to take up his grandmother's dream of making the neighborhood -- his barrio -- more beautiful, and to create a new home in a new country while preserving the memory and love of the old. The play is performed by three actors and puppets, amidst beautiful sets and intricate puppet-props that support the action.

Photo:  The costume shop
The costume shop was busy, with preparations for Geva's next main-stage production: 1776. We saw the designers and craftsmen turning sketches of our founding fathers into period-perfect costumes.

The themes of the play relate to the district's social studies curriculum and core values. The playwright is a Mexican-American who loves to incorporate Spanish words and phrases into his scripts. The use of Spanish and English together adds to the authenticity of the play, and allows a young audience to discover new words in a very natural way.

Photo:  The prop shop
In the prop shop, a woodworker was hand-crafting a Colonial chair for the set of 1776. The back rooms of the prop shop, shown here, looked like your grandmother's attic gone wild. Skip Greer, our tour guide, answered all our questions.

In addition to attending the play, the students enjoyed a question-and-answer session with the performers and an amazing backstage tour. One of Mrs. Hildebrand's students is Connor Greer, whose father is Skip Greer, the Director of Education at Geva; his mother is actress Bridgitt Markusfeld. They and two other Geva staffers gave the classes a top-to-bottom tour of the theater:

  • the main stage
  • the "trap room" under the stage, from which props and actors can appear as if by magic
  • the catwalks above the stage
  • the costume shop
  • the prop shop
  • the dressing room
  • the rehearsal room

Thanks to the inspiration provided by their teachers and augmented by this experience, there is no question that these young people will have a lifelong relationship with the theater in general and with Geva in particular.

story and photos by Jim Kane

May 26, 2003

Brighton Education Fund
Go to Top c/o Brighton Schools, 2035 Monroe Avenue, Rochester, New York 14618
(585) 461-0434
Clock tower image © Nancy Gong. Hosting services provided by Cmark and Associates.

BHS Clock Tower