By Natalie Soroka, Talmud Torah Society
(Edmonton) – Talmud Torah School (TT) is well known for its cohesive community and familial nature. In any given year we average around 140 students, and an additional 60 children in the Talmud Torah Early Learning Centre. For the 2022-23 school year we wanted our students to experience the creation and performance of a drama production. Talmud Torah School Council (TTSC), through the efforts of Chair Christina Reboh and TTSC parent volunteers, Talmud Torah Society’s Education Committee, as well as principal Darin Johnson, were able to bring Trickster Theatre to Talmud Torah School. Trickster Theatre is a non-profit organization that creates fun, engaging, effective learning through physical theatre.
Throughout the week of February 13, teachers had the unique opportunity to be inspired by Trickster Theatre artists and learned new techniques to their cross-curricular, Judaic inspired drama/art projects. Our students took the lead with just one prop and three 1.5 hour sessions. Along with techniques taught by Trickster Theatre leaders, students learned about script writing, artistic collaboration, costume design, stage presence and lighting, lessons which will be valuable for years to come.
Our community had a special opportunity to come together at TT the evening of February 16th and the afternoon of February 17th to see the students demonstrate our values on stage. KG – act with loving kindness, show your love through kind actions – gemilut hasadim – גמילות חסדים; Gr. 1 – community – help your community grow by showing kindness and helping all people who share things in common with you – kehillah – קהילה; Gr. 2 – be content, be happy with what you have – sameach b’chelko – שמח בחלקו Gr. 3 – kind speech – use your words to help and be kind – if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it at all – lashan ha’ra – לשון הרע; Gr. 4 – honour humanity – every person has great value and deserves to be treated with respect – kavod ha’briot – כבוד הבריות; Gr. 5 – repair the world – take care of the world, show how much you love it, by helping to clean it and working toward fixing any problems you might find – tikkun olam – תִּיקּוּן עוֹלָם; Gr. 6 – shadow show bringing together all the Jewish values performed.
The gymnasium was filled with family and friends, along with special guests including MLA Lorne Dach, Edmonton Public School Trustee Dawn Hancock, and Jewish Federation CEO Stacey Leavitt Wright. The students worked very hard to prepare skits that were not only entertaining, but oftentimes humorous and heartwarming. It culminated in an outstanding, spine-tingling performance by the Grade 6 students done solely with shadows and music. Not a word was spoken, but the messages were loud and clear.
Parent volunteers worked throughout the week, schlepping stage equipment, creating props for the Grade 6 performance, organizing costumes, and helping during the performances. As always, our amazing volunteers came through with flying colours!
This drama residency could not have been achieved without a generous grant from the Edmonton Jewish Community Charitable Foundation (EJCCF). In providing the grant, the EJCCF recognized the importance of drama in school, specifically drama with a Judaic theme. “The Edmonton Jewish Community Charitable Foundation provides grants every year to the Talmud Torah Society that support student enrichment. They are an integral part of our ability to enhance the student experience at TT, and we are so very thankful,” Christina stated. As well, many parents and community members supported this residency by placing greetings or business ads in the playbill.
Thank you to all of our volunteers and sponsors for your efforts in bringing this special drama experience to Talmud Torah students and staff.
To learn more about the TT Trickster Theatre residency, to share student enrichment opportunities, or to get more involved in all the fun and learning at Talmud Torah, please connect with the TTSC at firstname.lastname@example.org.