On Friday morning, students in 2S were excited to present Rainstorm, a wordless play inspired by the picture book of the same name by Barbara Lehman. Friday’s performance was the culmination of what has truly been a child-centered process in which children were given as much ownership as possible for the planning, creation, and performance of the play. Children started by responded to the prompt: “If you discovered a magical chest that led to a secret place, where would you go? What would you do?” Children let their imaginations run completely free, and their ideas formed the basis of our story line, in which small groups of children discover a magical chest leading to a magical jungle. Children created their characters, and working in their small groups, planned out individual scenes in the play. Children practiced the skills of being flexible, compromising, and perhaps most challenging, managing and dealing with the disappointment that can come when things do not go exactly as we had planned. Our inspiration for a wordless play came from Mrs. Noble, who created the wordless play Wave with her students in 2N several years ago. The children in 2S thought about how a play without words has the potential to include members of an audience who might otherwise not have been able to fully understand and enjoy a performance in which the story is communicated primarily through the spoken word, including audience members who might be deaf or hard of hearing, people who speak a language other than English, younger children who might not understand “big words,” and people who do not understand any spoken language. In preparing for Friday’s performance, children worked incredibly hard to develop the ability to tell a story without using their voices. In a play without words, we rely heavily on using our bodies and our facial expressions to communicate ideas and feelings. We also need to be really connected to each other, and have the ability to focus on what each person is doing in order to know how to respond. In the absence of a verbal cue or prompt, we need to notice something as subtle as someone raising a finger to indicate a scene change. This year, students in 2S have been learning about and practicing mindfulness. The skills that they have developed in learning to “turn off their voices” and deliberately direct their attention to a given focal point provided the foundation for the work that they did in this play. We call this “playing attention.” Our entire play process, and Friday’s performance, would not have been possible without the tremendous help and support of our Art teacher Ms. DuRant, who helped us design and paint our incredible backdrop and props, the guidance and expertise of our musical director Greg Paradis who helped us develop and fine tune our movements and sequences, and the talents and good humor of our “surprise” guest actor, Mr. Pyke, who played the part of our "jungle friend." 2S would also like to thank Mr. Brown for setting up our auditorium, and our parents, families, and friends for their love and support. Our performance of Rainstorm is a celebration of childhood – of imagination, free movement, dancing, friendship, laughter, and play. It is about curiosity, discovery, facing our fears and learning what happens when we do. We hope that you enjoyed our performance!