One Act Festival, 2018

For the past three months, the eighth grade class explored Shakespeare’s themes of power, popularity, fame, and crises of integrity. If these themes sound a lot like what happens in middle school, you’re not wrong. Through their one-act festival featuring plays inspired by Macbeth, the class of 2018 got the chance to wrestle with these dynamics through the magic of the theater, rather than in their own lives. They stepped into characters that were both deeply relatable and extremely far-fetched, choreographed cheer after cheer, dance after dance, and arranged lyrics and costumes to pull it all together.  

Macbeth: A Musical Comedy sets the scene for us, laying out the dramatic arc of the Scottish play through Ms. Jenny’s favorite form of theater: a series of adapted pop songs, original choreography, and outrageous comedic dialogue. In Double Double, three witches, who have been trapped in the mortal realm since Shakespeare first wrote the Scottish play, decide that getting a student to quit her new high school’s production of Macbeth is the way to break the curse. Finally, in Miss Beth, a high school student is surrounded by some people who want her to be named captain of the cheerleading squad, a quintessential symbol of high school status, and some who want to compete with her for power.  

This year’s eighth graders brought many skills and talents to the process of putting these shows together. Not only can they sing, dance, and create characters, but they can also choreograph, design costumes, write light cues, collectively solve problems at the drop of a hat, and support one another through long and tiring days inside the Broadway Performance Hall. They were so mighty in their collective vision and power that we directors hardly had to do anything other than sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.

See all the photos on Smugmug!

 

Some Play!

L-Dub students brought the world of E. B. White and the classic story of a pig and a spider who become best friends to life on the stage. Through the love and friendship of a brilliant spider named Charlotte (and a few other farm animals), our hero, Wilbur, learned that he is quite some pig, who is terrific, radiant, and humble. As this bittersweet tale of friendship came to life on the L-Dub stage, the energy and enthusiasm from all the actors and crew members made the rehearsals a time of singing, dancing, and laughing. This was some cast and a terrific crew. The radiant Ms. B made costumes, props, and sets out of thin air, and the terrific Ms. Eva ran a tight ship and kept this director on task and on time. Ms. Mutschler and Señora Jacquie are some teachers – they took 18 sixth graders and turned them into dancing goslings and spiders. The ever-radiant Ms. Andi gave guidance and support to our singers and guitar players. Thanks to all the parents, L-Dub staff, and others who helped make this play terrific.

Festival of Lights 2016

Lake Washington Girls Middle School Festival of Lights/Poetry Night: Odes to the Real: Authoring Authenticity.

This year's Poetry Night's theme was Odes to the Real: Authoring Authenticity.

The poetry elective’s performance was inspired by Amanda Gorman’s poem, At the Age of 18: Ode to Girls of Color. Below is an excerpt from that poem:

“...I know my color is not warning, but a welcome.

A girl of color is a lighthouse, an ultraviolet ray of power, potential, and promise

My color does not mean caution, it means courage

my dark does not mean danger, it means daring,

my brown does not mean broken, it means bold backbone from working

twice as hard to get half as far.

Being a girl of color means I am key, path, and wonder all in one body…”

Thank you to Dan DeLong P'19 for these stunning photos of the event. See more on Smugmug, and stay tuned for video!

 

The Phantom Tollbooth

Lake Washington Girls Middle School presents The Phantom Tollbooth

The Phantom Tollbooth tells the story of Milo, a bored child with nothing better to do than put coins in a magical tollbooth and take off on an educational adventure to rescue Rhyme and Reason. With the help of a crazy cast of characters, Milo discovers the wonders of words and numbers as well as ways to get out of the Doldrums, to see things from others’ perspectives, and to find the hero inside of himself. It’s a bit like students at L-Dub who put their faith in the magical adventures of middle school with all its lessons about words, numbers, empathy, creativity, and becoming a hero. Just like Milo, L-Dub students are accompanied on their journey by all sorts of crazy characters, and our play has had the benefit of some truly creative and talented people. The sixth graders brought energy and enthusiasm to every song and dance whether they had to wear pajamas or an umbrella hat. The seventh grade brought the characters to life and helped add some dynamic diva moments with revamped songs based on classics from Whitney Houston, Cyndi Lauper, Mariah Carey, and the Weather Girls. Finally, the entire eighth grade did it all: painted, sewed, glued, built, printed, and choreographed. As the crew members worked on all things technical, from lighting the show, setting sound and music cues, and creating projections, the rest of us got to sit back and enjoy the magic of Milo’s journey through the Kingdom of Knowledge.

While the students put their all into getting ready for this show, they did need some help from many teachers, parents, and volunteers. We could not have done this show without our musical director, the talented Ms. Andi, or our Artistic Director, the patient Ms. B. Theater week comes together because Ms. Colleen and Ms. Meredith coordinate the many moving parts, while Ms. Eva and Ms. Hearn make sure the actors are where they should be and are saying what they’re supposed to say (with volume and enunciation). Thanks to all the faculty and staff who ran to Blick for more paint and glue, drove buses and cars to and from the theater, and came to see the show (often more than once!) And lastly, thanks to parents, families, and friends who fill the theater with laughter and love.

Here’s to the hero in all of us!

Check out all of the photos on Smugmug!

One Act Festival

In a month that welcomes the season of summer, the end of the school year, and magical new adventures on the horizon, a festival with the theme of Midsummer was fitting. 

Our festival began with a whirlwind course on the works of Shakespeare, with impish helpers creating mischief. We then sharpened our focus to examine one of his plays, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with its tale of unrequited love and misdirected magic – magic caused by that same imp. And finally, we found ourselves back in school, with a show about a cast and their drama teacher rehearsing for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, while that same imp tries to help and causes trouble again.                        

Eighth graders, thank you for making this production better than we thought it could be and for being good sports about whatever we asked you to do, whether it was sing, dance, dance badly, wear that costume you don’t like, change your costume a dozen times, say your lines in a fake voice, say your lines in three different voices, say your lines under a donkey head, play a boy, play a girl, play a boy playing a girl, fall, cut lines, add lines, or hit your friend in the face with a pie. Thanks for being the crew – and the squad – for each other. 

If we shadows have offended, know but this and all is mended: That you have but slumbered here, while these visions did appear, and this weak and idle theme, no more yielding, but a dream.

Thank you to you all,

 

Check out all of the OAF photos on Smugmug.

The WIZard of Oz!

The second show of the year for L-Dub’s Drama Department features another girl’s quest. Quite similar to Alice, Dorothy’s journey takes her on an adventure that includes singing, dancing, and general mayhem; a perfect combination for our school full of energy and talent. The entire cast and crew of The Wizard of Oz brought so much energy to every phase of the show, from adding scenes, songs, and dances, to creating beautiful projections and sets. There was no end to the girls’ willingness to try a new dance or sing a new song. In fact, there were some great ideas added just days before opening night. The hardest part of directing this show was limiting the girls’ energy and ideas – if we had another week of rehearsals, I’m sure there would be even more great songs, additional scenes, new characters, and some major dance numbers. 

As with any LWGMS production, there are so many people who contribute to the girls’ experience: Ms. Lindsey creates skillful and beautiful accompaniment: Ms. Chelsea makes magic happen with hot glue, cardboard, paint, and well-curated trips to Value Village: Ms. Eva and Ms. Hearn encourage the actors to speak with conviction and volume; Ms. B takes the eighth grade crew members and teaches them how to run a seamless show; Anne Gienapp coaches the girls to sing with precision and harmony; Ms. Colleen makes sure the girls are where they need to be; and the eighth grade crew brings enthusiasm, organization, and leadership to their sisters’ production. The entire L-Dub community contributes to these shows from faculty and staff to family members who drive set pieces and kids to the theater, and then come to the shows to cheer on the girls. 

We hope you enjoyed L-Dub’s version of a trip down the Yellow Brick Road!

Check out all the photos on Smugmug!

Taking it to Heart

Last week we welcomed 70 smart, strong, and wonderful women to share their stories and advice with the Class of 2016 at this year's Creative Connections luncheon. Eighth grade students facilitated roundtable discussions about the journeys our guests had been on to get to where they are today and how they encountered and rejected stereotypes and inequities along the way. The conversations were deep, lively, and very informative. The eighth grade students will be sharing some of what they learned with the rest of the student body next week, including...

  • Take risks and never stop.
  • Think outside the box! The uncomfortable can be very informative.
  • Find ways to overcome obstacles – they aren't walls.
  • Look for mentors who are challenging and nurturing.
  • Challenges can be formative.
  • Always remember: your voice and your ideas are important.
  • Marry your passion to STEM.
  • Speak out against injustice and challenge the status quo.
  • Women are stronger together!

We were so thrilled by the energy, enthusiasm, and kindness our guests showed the eighth grade, and we want you to know that we are taking your advice to heart.

Highlights from the event...

Eva McGough addressing the guests.

Eva McGough addressing the guests.

"This piece...was a collaboration among three girls who were inspired by a young poet named Nate Marshall. He was featured in a documentary their class watched about a spoken word competition, or poetry slam, called Louder Than a Bomb. We call that style of poem an ego-trippin’ poem, and we used Nate’s piece as a mentor text, one that taught us how to employ hyperbole and allusion and wordplay. More important, however, was what it taught the girls about honoring and celebrating their authentic selves. They loved the rhyme and the wordplay and the collaboration, but they also loved the swagger of it. It was a license to brag and permission to boast. And in doing so, they also sent out a call to others to embrace what’s real about who they are.

We wanted these girls to perform for you today because it’s not often that you see young women, or any women for that matter, celebrated for being brash and outspoken. We’re not used to it, and girls aren’t typically encouraged to try that on. You should know that every student in their class had the option of writing an ego-trippin poem, but few did. Many resisted. They worried they would sound conceited, stuck-up. It was risky – that kind of self-promotion. And they’re right. It is risky. And here at L-Dub, we want girls to take risks. And in our society, we NEED girls to take risks. We need Beyonce to raise a fist during the Super Bowl’s halftime show and we need Hillary Clinton to demand a seat in the oval office. We need girls to recognize that “self-assured is NOT cocky, that standing tall is NOT shadowing others, that confidence IS marvelous,” and we need all of you to help us celebrate when girls find the will and the courage to speak up."
—Eva McGough, Humanities Chair

Patti Hearn, Head of School, addressing guests about the Myth of Effortless Perfectionism

Patti Hearn, Head of School, addressing guests about the Myth of Effortless Perfectionism

 

"What can schools do to battle the myth of effortless perfectionism? Girls get all these messages from media and society – and maybe from their schools and maybe from their parents – that they should be able to do everything well: do well in school, do well in sports, have a lot of friends…all with pressure to post all this success and happiness on social media. And there’s this other insidious expectation that they should be able to do so much so well without much struggle, without really trying that hard. In other words, “I woke up like this.” If you think back to the words of Corina, Celia, and Zoe who started us off today, you can see that they are aware of – and they are critically analyzing – this element of our culture where people sometimes measure their self-worth via the validation of social media. “You might think I need to get a life,” they said, “but at least if I don’t get a like, it’s alright.”"
—Patti Hearn, Head of School

Jenny Zavatsky, Assistant Head of School, addressing guests about LWGMS's filmmaking programs.

Jenny Zavatsky, Assistant Head of School, addressing guests about LWGMS's filmmaking programs.

 

 

 

 

"Teaching girls how to make film is also a social justice issue for women. You all know the statistics: women make up only 18% of all the directors, writers, and producers in the film industry, and that includes independent films. If we only look at the top 250 domestic grossing films, women directed only 9% of those popular films. And those are the films that saturate the media and damage girls’ self esteem around body image and leave us with so few visible role models for women. When I think about the topics our eighth grader chose this year, I wonder how different the world will be when women get behind the camera. We already know that when men direct films, only 9% of the protagonists are women but in films directed by women, female characters make up 40% of the protagonists. Women making films tell stories about women, and I know that girls have some great stories and a lot to say about privilege, equality, and justice."
—Jenny Zavatsky, Assistant Head of School

 

 

Photos

You can see all of these photos and more on our Smugmug site!

Alice Was Wonderful!

Alice in Wonderland is 150 years old this year, and the LWGMS Drama Department decided to throw her a birthday party – L-Dub style! As we tell the story of a curious girl on an adventure through another land, our inspiration comes from the 1970s (with a little Taylor Swift and Katy Perry thrown in for good measure). Without any real logic to Lewis Carroll’s classic tale of Alice’s trip down the rabbit hole, we embraced any idea that came along and created a show that highlighted the talents of eighth graders’ dance, art, and sewing skills; seventh graders’ singing and acting chops; and sixth graders’ energy and excitement. We added new and old songs throughout the rehearsal process as well as new characters and additional scenes. When anyone questioned how a new idea might fit in the storyline, the answer was always, “It’s Wonderland, so anything can happen!” We hope you will enjoy our wacky tale of Alice, a girl on a quest to find out who she is.

As with any LWGMS production, many people contribute to the success of our shows: the music sounds great because of Ms. Lindsey, the sets and costumes look great because of Ms. Chelsea, the actors are loud and clear because of Ms. Eva and Ms. Hearn, and the volunteers get coordinated because of Ms. Colleen. Ultimately, the entire community contributes to these shows in so many ways. None of this would happen without the help and support of the faculty and staff who give up class time, drive set pieces and kids to the theater, and then come to the shows to cheer on the girls. Thanks to all the parents and family members who I’m sure spent hours listening to songs, running lines, and filling the theater with love.

8th Grade Play Glory

When each year’s eighth grade, after much research and discussion, chooses the plays they want to perform for their big middle school drama finale, we don’t know what themes will emerge as most salient. I always find myself pondering – during the explorations of character, fits of giggles, loud and raucous singing, and moments of frustration that happen during the rehearsal process – what those themes that speak to the actors will be. While much of the fun of the eighth grade show is being silly and playing over-the-top characters, I also think that a function of this swan song is to use the art of drama to work through some questions, anticipate the next step, and face some fears. 

This year, the eighth grade chose two one-acts with some pretty strong feminist themes (although it may be hard, dear audience, to find those themes in all the farce.) In the first play, Juliet takes over Shakespeare’s story of Romeo and Juliet, creating more parts for women and challenging the misogyny of Shakespeare’s time. Although Shakespeare might have been reluctant to admit it, Juliet actually is a strong character. The second play tells the story of a high school’s attempt to cast a musical without enough boys to play the parts written for boys – something that we at LWGMS don’t find a challenge at all. It’s also a story about young people dealing with not getting everything they want and, for some, getting responsibilities and pressure they don’t think they can handle. And there is where that eighth grade moment of working through questions and fears comes in. Not every cast or crew member got what she wanted in this show: Not enough songs. Too many songs. Not enough lines. Too many lines. Too much dancing. Oh, no – that dress! I can’t wear that dress! Please don’t make me wear a mustache! And yet, in the end, it’s telling the story – and more importantly, the camaraderie built while creating the show – that matters. What fun it has been telling this story with the talented and creative Class of 2014!

The cast was full of talent and full of ideas, and the crew on this show was as well! They collaborated to design a beautiful show, from props to sets to costumes to lighting to sound. 

Thank you to you all,
Ms. Hearn 

To see all of the play photos, head over to Smugmug.

Mulan!

For many years, I have listened to L-Dub girls sing (as loudly as possible) the trademark song from Mulan, “I’ll Make a Man Out of You.” Its irony has been a source of pride as the girls belt out the chorus while pantomiming martial arts moves. I was excited to finally bring that song to the stage and continue our proud tradition of “fighting like a girl.” While we struggled with Disney’s sexism and racism (again!), the theme of a young woman as a warrior was perfect for our young L-Dub warriors, as they had to attack a difficult musical score and learn some challenging dances, quick costume changes, and complex fight choreography. Like Mulan herself, the entire cast and crew showed strength in mind, body, and voice in every phase of the production from long rehearsals to last minute changes to the script. I was so proud to see the girls rise to the challenge, and I saw no need to make a man out of any of them – they all fight like girls!

As usual, many thanks are in order. The nine eighth graders on the crew brought artistic talent, organization, and energy to the show. It was with confidence that I turned the show over to the eighth graders who designed the lighting, painted the sets, made the costumes, and wrangled the Huns, soldiers, and dressmakers. Daisy Zajonc P'14 brought her inimitable musical direction and even brought her own brilliant percussionist, Joe Zajonc P'14, to add so much more to the music. With the coaching of the talented Jenn Brandon P'15, the girls' voices rose to new heights. The costume design and production is the vision of Jan Frederick P'09, '14 and her endless closet full of fabric, knick-knacks, and notions. The art department loaned us Ms. Lindsey, whose skills added to the magical look of our sets, props, and costumes. Ms. Chelsea stepped in to lead the girls in some crucial character development and some charming choreography. We all know that Ms. Eva P'16 brings her clipboard and her organization system to the 42 girls in this production, but what we didn’t know was that Ms. Eva can get 42 girls to do the hustle!  Finally, I am indebted to the commitment and energy of Ms. Kirsten: she is responsible for the glorious sets as she worked out every detail of the flats, led the artistic team in creating the cherry trees, and gave attention to each blooming flower.

- Ms. Jenny

See all of the Mulan photos here.

Totally Like Whatever You Know

Taylor Mali's, Totally Like Whatever You Know, is almost an L-Dub student mantra. The piece has been performed at our annual Festival of Lights Poetry Night for ten of 16 years, and this year the girls delivered: three SIXTH grade students performed it, and nailed it. These representatives of the Class of 2016 say it all...they are a group of girls with conviction, strength, and strong voices indeed.

Peter Pan!

LWGMS's production of Peter Pan was filled with firsts: the first Fall musical, the first play with only half the school, and the first Disney-based musical. As part of the first Fall musical at LWGMS, the girls jumped right in to the rehearsal process bringing creativity, enthusiasm, and talent. With lots going on at L-Dub during the Fall, the cast and crew of Peter Pan showed resilience with their flexibility and willingness. We all had to adjust to the idea that half the school was not part of the production, but regardless of who was "officially" part of Peter Pan, every student, teacher, staff member, and parent contributed to making this production possible. A special thanks to everyone who helped with sets, costumes, props, load-in, load-out, driving, singing, and dancing. This production was, as always, a true community event. It took a village to get girls to fly.

As we began working with Disney's Peter Pan, we came across some explicit and implicit sexism and racism in the script, something we could not live with in our production. So, we used Design Thinking to answer the question "How might we address the racism and sexism in our script?" The girls readily engaged in the process and came up with some inspired ideas to give our production a new twist on an old story. L-Dub's Peter Pan is not your grandmother's Peter Pan. We hope you enjoyed our punk rock fairies, the introduction of some Greek Gods and Goddesses, and the homage to Seattle's beloved Seahawks. 

Finally, many thanks are in order. The nine eighth grade students on the crew are truly invaluable -- they took charge of Peter Pan, from wrangling the Lost Boys and sewing beautiful costumes to designing the lights and running the entire show. The musical direction from Daisy Zajonc P'14 was brilliant. She could play any song we came up with, and most importantly, she inspired and led our gifted student musicians. Once again, the costume design and production fell under the artistic vision and talent of Jan Frederick P'09, '14, a woman who brings so much more than a serger to the production. We needed some added creativity from the Art and STEAM departments, and they delivered Nana the dog and Hook's dreaded Crocodile with the help of Ms. Chelsea and Ms. Caitlin; Ms. Lindsey's creativity brought our sets to life. While not a job that brings glory and applause, Ms. Eva's organization skills were indispensable as we shuttled, fed, and cared for 41 girls during our week at Broadway Performance Hall. We are indebted to and awed by the work of Señorita Jacquie. Having not yet worked on a theatrical production in her career, she gave the girls her complete attention and energy every week, from helping paint the sets to listening to girls practice lines. In the end, we discovered her true gift for choreography when Señorita took charge of the Fairies, Pirates, Lost Boys, Mermaids, and Greek Gods and made the dancing come alive. And finally, thank you to our fearless leader, Ms. Jenny. She brought out the best of everyone around her and helped make the production - indeed, all of our productions - so special.

Thank you also to Steven Brown P'15 for opening the doors to Eltana for our girls each morning before their walk to Broadway Performance Hall.

See all of the Peter Pan photos here.

Congrats, girls!

Festival of Lights, 2013

Congratulations to all you revolutionary petunias for a wondrous and inspirational evening of poetry. Every one of you was enchanting, and I enjoyed watching you celebrate each other's moment of glory on the stage with rapt attention and rapturous applause. What a fitting way to commence this season of gratitude. 

I've included a literary gift as a token of gratitude for all of you.

Like You 

Like you I
love love, life, the sweet smell
of things, the sky blue
landscape of January days.

And my blood boils up
and I laugh through eyes
that have known the buds of tears.

I believe the world is beautiful
and that poetry, like bread, is for everyone.

And that my veins don't end in me
but in the unanimous blood
of those who struggle for life,
love,
little things,
landscape and bread,
the poetry of everyone.

-Roque Dalton

–Ms. Eva

To see all of the Festival of Lights photos, click here.