School play holds lessons for Montessori Center School students
Friday evening in Montessori Center School of Santa Barbara’s multipurpose building, kids 9 to 11 bounced around, laughing and shrieking.
They were preparing for their spring performance, something they’ve been rehearsing for countless days. Their parents greeted each other, exchanging handshakes and hugs as everybody seemed to know one another.
The parents were happy and eager to see their children in the play, and the play that night was a special one. The school’s drama teacher, Garrett Blair, had planned it, and he incorporated more than a dozen story scenes, songs and poems from actress and author Marlo Thomas’ book and musical production “Free To Be You & Me.”
“The book is just such a great classic,” said Mr. Blair. “I remember listening to it on the record player when I was a kid. It’s just one of those great moments in time when brilliant artists came together to create a collection of artistic work which is all about changing the narrative of child development.”
The narrative of Friday evening’s play was one of success, specifically how success is not based on gender. Other lessons included the downsides of judging a book by its cover and the potential drawbacks of the “ladies first” mentality. In one act, for example, a lady who tramples on others in everyday life with the justification “ladies first” gets devoured by tigers first.
The students selected which scenes, stories and songs they will perform together. This selection process is part of a group collaboration mentality that Mr. Blair is trying to encourage. The mentality promotes humility, letting go and combining ideas with others.
“In other words,” said Mr. Blair, “your idea might be great. Now let’s take that and add other people’s ideas as well. The result? The sum of the ideas become greater than any single idea.”
And the sum of the students’ ideas all combined to produce Friday’s evening play, which included 40 actors and actresses. About 200 individuals filled the venue.
When Mr. Blair is not teaching drama at the Montessori Center School, he runs a youth theater business called Collabreations with his wife.
The couple moved to Southern California to “slow down” after about two decades in New York’s show biz. The two are expecting their first child as well as scouting out office space for Collabreations in Ventura.