I delightedly attended a performance earlier this month by the highly regarded Bellevue-based children’s theater group, Taproot Theater. As with previous performances, the thrust was to impress upon youngsters that bullying, in any of its ugly manifestations, is not to be tolerated.
The production played to a wall-to-wall audience of students at Vaughn Elementary. The kids were elated. They sponged up the lessons of the show with rapt enthusiasm.
The production this year was “Trouble In Fairytalezania.” As before, the actors set up a large backdrop screen with appropriate artwork. They move unobtrusively and staged the program with quick changes of costumes as they went through their paces.
Most performers play more than one role. This show featured some surprising twists on old fairy tales. The Big Bad Wolf turns out to be the good guy who gets put down by — guess who? — The Three Little Pigs. Little Red Riding Hood figured in the show, as did other fairy tale characters.
Quite out of character, if you will.
Of Taproot performers Sarah Renwick, B.J. Smyth, Eric Hampton, Asha Stichter and Caitlin Macy-Beckwith, only Stichter and Smyth were part of last year’s event.
“They were being mean to the wolf,” said Braedon Rose, a kindergartner in teacher Cecily Novotney’s class. “That wasn’t very nice.”
His classmate, Dylan Brooke, said: “Bullying means when someone wants to play and they keep saying no.”
Fellow kindergartener Jackson Shirts learned that you “shouldn’t fight with people.”
When the show ended to tumultuous applause from kids, teachers and parents, the performers each said a few words to stimulate the kids’ responses.
With that, it seemed every child in the crowded room had their hands in the air, causing a roiling wave of unarticulated but anxious ask-me pleas.
And their questions and comments were right on the mark.
“Prior to this annual performance, our counselor, Laurel Young, visits each classroom to teach our students problem-solving strategies,” Vaughn Elementary Principal Susan O’Leary said. “I follow up with a presentation about our district and school expectations around harassment, intimidation and bullying.
“This is the fourth year in a row we have had Taproot Theater perform for our students,” O’Leary said. “October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and the performances teach our students the important skills of recognizing, refusing and reporting bullying.”
O’Leary thanked Communities In Schools of Peninsula, which sponsors the program each year.
And I’m proud to be the longest-serving member of the CISP board.
Want to be involved? Call CISP’s office at 253-884-5733.Hugh McMillan is a longtime freelance writer for The Peninsula Gateway. He can be reached at 253-884-3319 or by email at hmcmnp1000@ centurytel.net.