School days come and school days go… but we wanted to make this one special for the children and their parents. So we, the staff of this little school in a remote corner of India decided to stage “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”
One of the most challenging and delightful roles of a teacher is to prepare the children for a play…especially if the children are in Junior School… The experience of training and getting them to practice defies description.
Snow White and the rest of the cast were from Grade 5 or less. A pretty and talented third grader became Snow White more so because she was relatively less naughty. The role of the wicked queen went to a smart 5Th grader who was really good at acting.
The seven dwarfs were chosen for their bright eyes, exuberance and general optimism about everything.. as you will soon see… The prince, who appeared only in the last scene was a quiet boy who learned his lines and recited them when asked to, a redeeming quality… as you will soon see…..
With minimum and minor hitches, we managed to get the children word perfect for the play. They emoted well, even the seven little boys… as they just had to be themselves, funny, and in high spirits.
The great day arrived… All were excited. The children were angels as far as punctuality and dress rehearsals were concerned. With the play scheduled for 7pm, the kids were brought to the green room at half past five.
As the dwarfs’ costume was uncomplicated they got ready first, their beards, whiskers and wigs fitted on and they were marched out to stand in a line, waiting for their great moment…..This was a great mistake….
They waited, 10 minutes… like good little boys, silent and happy… The next 10 minutes they looked around, and attracted others’ attention to their costume.. Some posed for pictures… They started talking … softly, louder.. louder until they were commanded to stand with fingers on lips.
It was then that the tallest of the boys noticed a lovely pit dug just behind the green room. He gestured silently to the other boys and said “Let’s see who jumps in and comes out first?”
Those that couldn’t jump just slithered in, shouted in victory and then clambered back to level ground. This seemed to be a nice game to pass the time… By the time they were missed and spotted, each dwarf could be credited with at least 3 attempts of jumping in and clambering out….
Their attire bore faithful testimony to this fact… The costumes were terribly muddied, the whiskers and beards were askance, there was no trace of make up and little fights of one up-manship had erupted…Of course they were lucky to have the pretty silver colored cardboard axes we had made for them, to begin their skirmishes. “Bang! Clash!” they mouthed to simulate a well fought axe duel….
However, the axes had not been designed for this eventuality and bore the brunt of the fights… all axes drooped uniformly and then some came apart….
The teachers quickly set the seven little boys right, making them presentable for the play. Whiskers were stuck back, t clothes were dusted clean, spare axes given, and make-up applied again…..
The play began..The queen, king, Snow White and the queen’s henchman were unbelievably good… Now our little boys were sent up on the stage…All got ready with their axes on shoulders and a happy grin.on their faces.. except one.. This little boy did not want his whiskers.any more.. they were tickling his nose! He cried for his mother and kept twitching his nose and sneezing until it fell away… he now looked what he was… a third grader…
Though he went on stage un-whiskered, he played his part well, as did the other six boys… We were almost getting complacent when the other shocks in store for us were revealed…
It was the scene of Snow White’s happy domesticity in the dwarf’s’ hut… She sang and danced and dusted and cleaned… The parents of the girl playing the part were so proud of her that her dad decided she should be photographed/video graphed/captured on mobile right then… So like any loving father he asked his other daughter (aged three years) to get up on stage and pose with her now famous Snow White sister..
Snow White loved all the attention, stopped singing and started posing for the pictures… I mean.. how often would this moment repeat for her? She made the best of it…
Play commenced after 10 minutes when one of us lifted the three-year old away from the stage and politely informed the now beaming father that people were waiting to see the play go on, so would he please take the rest of the pictures after the play?… Being magnanimous of heart he complied and settled back in his seat to watch the rest of the drama….
A real drama it was now… the wicked queen came with the pretty laces and bows .. she was applauded for her acting prowess by the parents while children watched her wickedness open-mouthed…Then the step mother disappeared…
It was the scene when she had to give Snow White the poisoned apple… Well… Snow White sang and knitted and danced and cleaned, waiting for the queen to appear, so did we… there seemed to be some commotion backstage…
What actually had happened was… the basket of shining red apples (five of them) tipped and the apples had rolled away… not one could be traced…A first grader wanted to help find it… he looked all around and then came running back to the director.. “Is this OK?” he asked… he had a melon sized red ball in his hand, which he had found somewhere.. It had broad white stripes on it too..
I will not dwell on the director’s plight, nor will I pause to consider whether he considered using the huge plastic Baby Ball pool..for the apple….. because at that moment one apple was traced.. It had rolled onto the stage and settled below Snow White’s chair…