On Friday, Jan. 10, the Garrison School sixth grade performed Gaslight Stories, a play depicting four classic 19th-century stories adapted by ELA Teacher Ian Berger. Student performances ranged from the funny to the frightening to the fantastic.
The stories selected by Berger included Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving, a Sherlock Holmes favorite, Adventures of the Speckled Band by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant, and The Time Machine by H.G. Wells.
“Performing Gaslight Stories gave the students an opportunity to immerse themselves in the literature in a truly unique way,” said Garrison School Principal Stephanie Impellittiere. “Under Ian Berger’s outstanding direction, the sixth graders brought these classic stories to life with their impressive performances.”
Berger tied the four tales together by having one character from each of the original stories meet at the home of the time traveler from The Time Machine as well as a reporter from The Strand, the magazine famous for publishing Sherlock Holmes stories. Sharing tea and sitting around a table, each character told his or her tale in turn and their story unfolded on the stage behind them. Props, including a time machine that lit up with swirling blue lights built by art teacher Coulter Young, costumes that reflected the time period created by parent volunteers, music selected by Berger and lighting by guidance counselor Mike Williams, all helped the audience to suspend disbelief that they were following these characters in the 19th century.
“Often the sixth graders are most worried about memorizing their lines when actually, that is the easiest part,” Berger said. “In addition to learning the stories and how to express their characters, the students worked on talking to the audience, articulating their consonants and projecting their voices. Leading up to Friday night’s performance, the rehearsals were intense but really fun and the end result was exceptional.”
Sixth grader Hayden Mayer, Man 2 in Rip Van Winkle, enjoyed the experience. “The play was really fun,” Hayden said. “It was easier to remember the lines than I thought it would be. The hardest part was moving the heavy props around. I’m looking forward to working with the sixth graders when I’m in eighth grade and can join the AV Club to work the lights and sound for the play.”
Will Stark, Lead Spirit in Rip Van Winkle and a dancer in The Necklace, shared his opinion.
“I thought the performance was really good. The process of making the play was very hard but Mr. Berger is the best director,” Will said.
Berger expressed thanks to all who helped, and extended special thanks to Dick Timmons for staging and production, Young for building the props, Mike Williams for lighting, the eighth grade AV Club for sound and lights, and parent volunteer Chrissy Colasurdo who helped with costumes and props.