KidSeries Season EDUCATOR STUDY GUIDE. Mr. Popper s Penguins (Fall 2015) Sparky! (Winter 2016) Lester s Dreadful Sweaters (Spring 2016)

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KidSeries Season EDUCATOR STUDY GUIDE Mr. Popper s Penguins (Fall 2015) Sparky! (Winter 2016) Lester s Dreadful Sweaters (Spring 2016) Lifeline Theatre * 6912 North Glenwood * Chicago, Illinois
KidSeries Season EDUCATOR STUDY GUIDE Mr. Popper s Penguins (Fall 2015) Sparky! (Winter 2016) Lester s Dreadful Sweaters (Spring 2016) Lifeline Theatre * 6912 North Glenwood * Chicago, Illinois * by Lifeline Theatre and Julie Ganey. This study guide is only to be used in conjunction with performances at Lifeline Theatre in Chicago, Illinois. Any other use is strictly forbidden. Mr. Popper s Penguins Based on the novel by Richard and Florence Atwater Script by Robert Kauzlaric Music & Lyrics by George Howe Directed by Paul S. Holmquist TABLE OF CONTENTS 3 Introduction to the Student Matinee Program How to Prepare for your Field Trip Traditional Plays vs. Literary Adaptations Jobs in the Theatre Before seeing Mr. Popper s Penguins 6 Synopsis of the Play 7 11 Activity Pages Penguins! True or False? Penguins! Answer Key If You Were An Explorer Captain Cook s Maze Penguins Care and Keeping 12 Further Adventures: Drama Games relating to Mr. Popper s Penguins 13 Student Review Sheet 14 Teacher Comment Form 2 Introduction to the Student Matinee Program Lifeline Theatre s award- winning adaptations of children s literature inspire a love of reading that will activate your students imaginations and stay with them throughout their lives. Every year, Lifeline Theatre s KidSeries Student Matinee Program serves over 3,000 students, 35 schools, 120 classrooms, and 185 teachers with school- day performances of our season productions. We encourage you to use this study guide to enrich your students experience of Mr. Popper s Penguins and enhance the educational value of the production. Please let us know what parts are helpful to you and where you would like additional materials. There is a teacher feedback form and student survey to copy for your class, and we hope you will take the time to let us know what you thought of both the show and the study guide. We do this work for you and your students, and we want to make it beneficial and user friendly! PREPARING FOR YOUR FIELD TRIP Before the Play: Discuss Appropriate Behavior Have a discussion with your students about proper theatre etiquette. For example, it s okay to clap and laugh, but it s not okay to talk to your neighbor. Have students compare and contrast the difference between watching a movie and watching a play. Ask if students have been to a play before. If so, what play? What was the experience like? Talk about the concentration that performing in a play requires, and ask the students what they find distracting when they are trying to accomplish a task in front of people. How can they help the actors succeed and do a good job? Let students know that in plays, actors sometimes play several different characters, and change roles by simply swapping out costume pieces and altering their voices and bodies. After the Play: Reflect on the Experience Ask students if they enjoyed the play. Based on this experience, would they like to see other plays? If they ve seen plays before, how did this play compare? What happened that they weren t expecting? How was seeing a play a different experience than seeing a movie? Have the students write a review of the play. Use the attached form or have them write a paragraph or two on their own. Encourage the students to be specific about why they enjoyed a certain part of the play. If they liked a scene because it was funny, have them explain why it was funny, what the characters did or said that was funny, etc. Have the students draw a picture or make a collage of their favorite scene or character. Have them show their picture to the class and explain why that scene or character was their favorite. We invite you to send the reviews and pictures to Lifeline we enjoy reading them and learning from student feedback. 3 TRADITIONAL PLAYS VS. LITERARY ADAPTATIONS Lifeline Theatre s KidSeries productions are often musical adaptations of picture books and short stories for children. We encourage you to discuss the elements of each version and compare/contrast the two both before and after you see the play. Before the Play: Get to Know the Original Story Read the story to your students, or have them read the book themselves, before the production. After reading the book, discuss it with your students, using these questions as launch pads: Who are the characters in the story? What happens in the beginning of the story? The middle? The end? Is there a character in the story you don t like? What makes you dislike this character? How do you think he/she might be portrayed in the stage version? What do you think you will see on stage as the actors tell this story? How might the play be different from the story? How might it be the same? Beginning, Middle and End To encourage sequential thinking, have students act out the beginning, middle and end of the story. Split the students into three groups (or more, depending on the number of students in your class) and have one group enact the beginning, have the next group enact the middle, and the final group the end. Have the students watching the performances help the group to remember any parts they may have left out. Give the groups the chance to redo their performances, including any elements suggested by their classmates. After the Play: Compare/Contrast the Story to the Play How were the book and the play different? How were the book and the play the same? What elements of the play surprised you, based on your knowledge of the book? Which did you enjoy more, reading the book or watching the play? What was your favorite part of the play? Was that your favorite part of the book too? Were there any characters in the book that were not in the play, or vice versa? Why do you think the playwright added or subtracted certain parts? JOBS IN THE THEATRE: BEHIND THE SCENES Before the Play: Prepare Your Students to Observe All Aspects of the Production When we create a play at Lifeline, we have a community of artists working together to make a complete production. Ask students to be particularly observant during the performance for the parts of the show that are done by the various people listed below: Playwright/Adaptor/Author writes the play Composer writes the music for the show Lyricist writes the words (or lyrics ) for the songs in the play 4 Director directs the play - makes decisions about costumes, lights, sets, and what the actors do onstage Choreographer creates and teaches the actors the dances in the show Lighting Designer designs and hangs the lights for the show; designs lighting effects Set Designer designs and builds the scenery and props for the show Sound Designer designs and records the sound effects for the show Costume Designer designs and finds or makes the costumes for the show Stage Manager helps the director during rehearsals; sets props and scenery before each performance; runs the sound and lights during the performance Actors perform the play After the Play: Discuss the Students Observations Ask the students about what they noticed about the behind- the- scenes jobs: How did the costume designer make the actors look like the characters they were playing? What about their costumes helped you to know what kind of people or animals they were? Did you have a favorite costume in the show? Which one? Why was it your favorite? If there were animal costumes, how did the costume designer create them so that they would look more like animals than people? What are some of the locations the play took place in? How did the set designer make the settings look realistic? What sound effects did you hear in the play? How did those sound effects help you to know what was happening in the play? Why do you think the composer chose the styles of music he did? What sorts of music would not make sense with the story? BEFORE SEEING MR. POPPER S PENGUINS AT LIFELINE A Few Things You Might Want to Know: Mr. Popper s Penguins takes place during the Great Depression, a 10- year period between 1929 and 1939 when there was very low economic activity, and many people were without jobs. President Roosevelt introduced the Works Progress Administration, or WPA, to employ Americans to build bridges, roads, parks and airports, and create art in many public spaces. The time period is very important to our production of Mr. Popper s Penguins. Notice the costumes the actors are wearing, and the songs in the show that the composer, George Howe, wrote in the style of 1930 s music. Mr. Popper s hero, Admiral Drake, is modeled on the real Antarctic Explorer, Admiral Richard C. Byrd, who made three trips to the South Pole between 1928 and And Captain Cook was a real British explorer in the second half of the 18 th century. Notice how four actors play many, many different characters in the show, and what costumes and props the actors use so that you can tell the characters apart. Lastly, how do you think Lifeline will portray the penguins onstage? Do you expect to see actual penguins? Or actors wearing penguin costumes? You ll have to come to the show to find out the answer! 5 Mr. Popper s Penguins Synopsis Stillwater, September 1937 Mr. Popper has come home after finishing his last day of work, as summer has ended and he will not be able to paint houses during the winter. He and Mrs. Popper go into the living room where she knits and he reads a fascinating book about penguins at the South Pole. They are about to go to bed when Mr. Popper remembers that the Drake Antarctic Expedition is being broadcasted on the radio. He turns it on and listens to Admiral Drake speak about the progress of the expedition. Suddenly, Admiral Drake addresses Mr. Popper directly, thanking him for the letter he had sent him and telling him to wait for a surprise in return. The next day, Mr. Popper receives a package from Antarctica. He opens the box and finds a penguin inside. Mr. Popper is thrilled and decides to take the penguin for a walk to show him around town. Back at the house, Mrs. Popper is in the living room. When the penguin appears she is startled, but Mr. Popper assures her he is friendly, and they agree to keep the penguin as a pet. Mr. Popper decides to name him Captain Cook, after the famous English explorer. It s winter, so Captain Cook begins building a rookery and the Poppers join in. Cook seems satisfied with his new nest, but the Poppers sense he is becoming sad. The Poppers decide to write to the aquarium for help. The curator writes back telling them that the aquarium s penguin, Greta, is showing similar behaviors and they believe she might be suffering from loneliness. The curator sends them Greta, and she and Cook warm up to each other and are very happy together. Christmas is near, and despite the cold, the Poppers keep the windows open to let the snow pile up in their living room for the penguins to enjoy. Eventually, it is discovered that Greta has laid ten eggs. On Christmas morning, the babies are born. Feeding and taking care of the penguins is expensive, and with Mr. Popper out of work for the season, Mrs. Popper reveals there is no money left. They come up with the idea to train the penguins for a stage act to make money. They hear about Artie Greenbaum, a celebrated producer, coming to Stillwater in search of new acts, so they take a trip to the theatre to audition for him. It s a Saturday night and there is a show in progress when they arrive at Mr. Greenbaum s office. The closing act hasn t shown up yet and the audience is asking for their money back. Mr. Popper suggests they audition by performing as the closing number. The audience loves the penguins, and Mr. Greenbaum hires them to go on tour. The tour starts out wonderfully, but it s grueling, and eventually the penguins and the Poppers become exhausted. During the last show, they come across a group of performing seals. One of the seals hits Captain Cook with his flipper and they all get in a big fight. The Poppers are so tired they hadn t realized they had gone to the wrong theatre, so Mr. Popper and the penguins are arrested for trespassing. Admiral Drake shows up and posts bail. He asks if he can take the penguins to the North Pole, where there are no penguins, only polar bears. Mr. Popper is worried the penguins might be eaten by the bears, but the Admiral tells him they will be safe because they are trained, and therefore smarter. Suddenly, Mrs. Popper comes in with Mr. Greenbaum who offers them a movie contract. The Poppers reject both offers and instead tell Admiral Drake he can take the penguins to the South Pole, where they truly belong, with the condition that the Poppers can see the penguins safely home themselves. Mr. Greenbaum agrees to pay for the expedition if he can shoot one movie with the penguins before they leave, and the Poppers agree to the deal. They pack their belongings, shoot the movie, and head for an adventure at the South Pole. 6 PENGUINS! True or False? Audience members can learn a lot about penguins by listening closely during Mr. Popper s Penguins. Do you know which of the statements below are true, and which are false? 1) Penguins can go more than a month without food. True or False? 2) Penguins live at both the North and South poles. True or False? 3) Penguins are able to fly, but prefer swimming. True or False? 4) Penguin nests are usually made of stones and pebbles. True or False? 5) Penguins are social creatures, and like to live with other penguins. True or False? 6) Penguins show friendship by dropping a stone at another penguin s feet. True or False? 7) Penguins typically lay 8 to 10 eggs per season. True or False? 8) Penguins like to eat fish, but are allergic to shrimp. True or False? 9) Penguins sit on their eggs to keep them warm, much like chickens do. True or False? 10) Penguins are curious animals, and like to explore new environments. True or False? 7 PENGUINS! True or False? ANSWER KEY 1) True! Emperor penguins have been known to go more than two months without food when guarding eggs. 2) False! Penguins are found only in the Antarctic, near the South Pole. 3) False! Penguins cannot fly in the air like other birds. 4) True! Penguin nests are usually made of stones and pebbles, and sometimes sticks, too. 5) True! Penguins live together in communities called colonies. 6) True! Stones serve as heartfelt gifts from one penguin to another, and penguins often search through piles of pebbles to find the smoothest, most perfect ones. 7) False! Emperor penguins will lay a single egg. All other species of penguins lay two eggs. 8) False! Penguins eat fish, shrimp, squid and krill, a shrimp-like crustacean in the ocean. 9) True! Penguins sit on their eggs and keep them warm for up to two months before they hatch. 10) True! Penguins are extremely curious, often coming right up to humans in the wild. 8 If You Were An Explorer In the play, Mr. Popper longs to visit Antarctica. If you had the chance to explore any terrain or area of the world, where would you choose? A rainforest? A mountain range? A desert? The ocean floor? Why would you choose this place? What interests you about this area of the world? What animals do you think you would find there? What clothing would you need to wear and what items would you need to take with you to survive? I would love to explore 9 Captain Cook is hungry! Can you lead him through the maze to find his dinner? 10 Penguin Care and Keeping Imagine that you are a penguin, and you ve just been delivered to a family who wants to keep you as a pet. What sort of instructions would you give them if you could? What do you need to stay healthy and happy? Think not only about your food and temperature preferences, but what kind of exercise you need and what your favorite activities are. How can your new family help you if you lay an egg? What is your cool penguin name? Use what you have learned from Mr. Popper s Penguins, and do some library and Internet research to round out your knowledge. Dear New Family, Sincerely, 11 FURTHER CLASSROOM ADVENTURES Drama Games relating to Mr. Popper s Penguins In our Lifeline residencies, we use theatre games to not only teach the basics of performance, but also to explore themes in the student matinees. Below are some games you can play with your class that touch upon some of the concepts conveyed in the production. Family Portraits (Because just like the Poppers and their penguins, families can look all different ways.) Number of Players: 5-8, with audience Acting Objectives: Physicality, Imagination, Emotion, Character How To Play: 5 8 students are brought to the front of the room, facing the audience. The facilitator explains that they are going to be a family who is getting a group photograph taken. When the facilitator says, 1,2,3, Click! the students must create a frozen family pose with levels, making sure all faces can be seen, etc. Then, ask students to use their imaginations to create family portraits using prompts that will be given, such as, The Sick Family! 1,2,3,Click! or The Paranoid Family! 1,2,3,Click! Other ideas: The Silly, Sad, Terrified, Circus, Explorer, Penguin, Artistic, Exhausted, Bully, Zoo Family. Flocking (For working and moving together, like the penguins in their stage act) Number of Players: Groups of 4-12 (Allow several students to stand out and observe.) Objectives: Physicality, Ensemble, Reflexes How to Play: Organize students (4 to 12 per group) in a diamond pattern, evenly spaced with enough room to move arms freely (see below). All students should face one direction, toward a person at one of the four points of the diamond. Using slow music, ask students to follow the movements of the student at the leading point. The leader should keep the movement even and slow (similar to tai chi) as it is not a race, nor is this exercise to trick others. Encourage leaders to use different levels. When instructed, or at some point, the leader may turn a quarter turn so that the whole group is facing a new direction. For example, if #1 (below) is leading, and then turns a quarter turn to the right, #6 is now the leader, and the entire group follows #6, until she turns and all face the next leader. The movement should be fluid and seamless, even when leadership is changing Character Interview (Use your imagination to get to know the characters!) Number of Players: Solo, with audience Acting Objectives: Physicality, Imagination, Character How to Play: Focusing on a specific character from Mr. Popper s, a volunteer is asked to come up and be that character for a Q&A with the class. The student is asked to consider not only the physicality of their character, but also the words and feelings he or she might use in such a setting. The class speaks to this actor as the character and asks them questions about their life and experiences. Examples: Mrs. Popper, Admiral Drake, Mr. Greenbaum, the Bus Driver, the Barber, etc. 12 Student Review of Mr. Popper s Penguins By: I give this play a (circle the number of stars): My favorite part of the play was because. My favorite character was because. If I had to choose what I liked best, I would choose (circle one) the story the characters the music the costumes the scenery because. 13 KidSeries Teacher Comment Form We d love to hear from you! Please fill out this comment form, and get it back to us one of two ways: Either mail it to Julie Ganey, Education Director, Lifeline Theatre, 6912 North Glenwood Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60626, or it back to us at If your students have completed review sheets, we d love to see those too! School: Grade Level: Number of Students: Show your class saw: Have you attended a Lifeline KidSeries show before? Yes No If yes, which one(s) have you seen? Did you read your class the book before coming to see the show? Yes No What was the strongest part of the show for you, or what did you like best? What was the weakest part of the show for you, or what did you like least? Would you bring your students to another performance at Lifeline? Yes No Why or why not? Which activities in the
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