Sometimes the best way of dealing with adult issues is to go back to the basics — the kindergarten basics.
Central Christian College of Kansas will present “All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,” a play based on Robert Fulghum’s best-selling books that take a funny, insightful look at the profound in everyday life.
Chris Gates, director and professor of communications and theater at the college, explained that this play demonstrates values of lessons learned as a child.
“It starts off by looking at what happened between kindergarten, where the kids are sure of themselves, to adult life where we’re detached. What were the lessons we learned in kindergarten and can we apply those?” Gates said.
The play, adapted by Ernie Zulia and David Caldwell, consists of a series of short scenes or vignettes that cover a swath of events that all convey aspects of life.
“There are a number of scenes that are comical but there are scenes that are very poignant and have a very strong message to them. There’s a scene when a kid wanted to play Cinderella’s pet pig in a play of ‘Cinderella.’ While that didn’t make sense at the time, but there’s something that can be gained from that creative spark when that teacher allowed that spark to happen,” Gates explained. “There are other sections like ‘Hide and Seek,’ how we played it as a kid and how we play it as adults. It references a man who has cancer and didn’t want to tell his family and pull them through the pain and suffering. He ended up dying in silence, which is hide-and-seek, adult-style.”
With a shift in students participating in theater, Gates found the perfect opportunity to pull out the script he’d saved for such an opportunity.
“A mass portion of my students graduated last year, so I have some newbies on stage. A couple have just done maybe one play with us, some old hats and some new ones,” Gates said. “I kept holding on to this one because there weren’t enough roles, or it wouldn’t be challenging enough, so with the changing of the guard this year, it made for a fun, experimental piece.”
The format of the show allows students, both seasoned and new to the stage, an opportunity to connect with the audience.
“Since it’s a series of vignettes, it’s a little different than normal plays where you have defined characters that run throughout,” Gates said. “I was looking for something fun and lighthearted, and wouldn’t have a demanding set, but would give some newer actors the chance to explore character development on a smaller scale, rather than a large-scale production. I felt like we’d done a lot of those in the past and it was time to kick back and have fun with a smaller one.”
Gates explained that this style of show is forgiving to new actors, while also offering seasoned actors the freedom to develop several roles outside of the script.
“They’ve really had fun exploring those childlike characters and really letting go. I had a student doing a monologue in rehearsal last night and I really pushed him to really let go and roll around on the stage like a kid. Every night, he increases that freedom and now it’s one of my favorite pieces because he’s allowed himself to let go so much that it’s hard not to laugh as he pulls out new, funny things each night,” Gates said.
“All I Ever Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” will be performed at 7 p.m. Nov. 16 through 18 in Greer Auditorium on the Central Christian College of Kansas campus. Tickets are $5 for students and $7 for adults at the door.
Contact Cheyenne Derksen Schroeder by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @MacSentinel.