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Students write, perform and produce play

Posted Saturday, May 27, 2023 —

When the Geneva Middle School Drama Club decided they wanted to put on a play this spring, they were willing to overcome any number of obstacles to make it happen.

The first challenge was submitting applications for the rights to perform, but after several submissions came back with fees too high for the club to manage, they had to rethink the plan, according to advisor Judy Bunker Zanin. Ms. Bunker Zanin also teaches special education at the middle school. Their next thought was a talent show, says Ms. Bunker Zanin, but that idea did not prove popular. That, she says, is when inspiration struck. “What if we did mash-ups of fairy tales and nursery rhymes?” a student wondered, and the rest agreed.

This simple idea led to a very complex project — the students ultimately wrote, acted in, and directed their own creation, “Once Upon a Fairy Tale!” under the guidance of Ms. Bunker Zanin and Sierra Mitchell, the school nurse.

“They learned a ton,” said Ms. Bunker Zanin. “They were very stressed for a while — in a good way.” Students stayed late to write and rehearse, spent advisory period and study hall creating sets, and even designed their costumes.

“They understood what it meant to take charge of something,” said Ms. Bunker Zanin. “They learned about costumes and designs and lights and sound,” she said. “They learned about every single step of the process. ... They’re going to take that skill to the bank. These are skills that they can apply to any career or job.”

The performance was a success, Ms. Bunker Zanin says. The “slightly panicked” students put on a high-energy opening night, followed by a well-attended character breakfast and a polished  matinee performance.

“They really enjoyed it,” said Ms. Bunker Zanin, noting discussions have already begun for a similar undertaking next year. “I had a blast,” she added. “Sierra had a lot of fun. As much as this was stressful and rushed at the end, not unlike any other production, I think we would definitely do this again because the kids learned so many great skills in the process.”