On Tuesday, November 7th, parents sit waiting as their children do some final preparations before their production for Oyster River High Schools world language festival. The students put in a lot of work and time into memorizing lines, building sets, and practicing their plays. “It’s a lot of fun to take a break from the more hardcore learning,” says Madi Hookway (‘19). Every year near the beginning of November, the world language department puts on a set of short productions of well known fairy tales. Each student is responsible for memorizing lines for and performing a part in their class’s production, which is done in the language that they are studying. These productions are shown to parents and community members who come to the event at Oyster River High School. The productions give students a way to practice the language they are studying in a fun and non-stressful environment.
Elliott Moore’s French 3 class performs their production of La Belle et La Bête. Two actresses stand off to the side but continue to stay in character as the scene continues. “One of the hardest things is you need to teach people acting skills,”says Hookway.
Belle (Madi Hookway) and The Beast (Henry Duisburg) embrace after The Beast transforms back into a prince, by finding Belle and receiving true love’s kiss. “It’s a little kid story that you do in high school, so it’s just a lot of fun,” says Maclane Jennison (‘18).
“When people get into it it’s really a lot of fun,” says Sophie Moore (‘19). In La Rose d’Or, the second of multiple french productions, one actor gets into his part by stabbing an actress with his plastic sword after finding their mother’s golden rose. This character does this in hopes of claiming the kingdom for himself. “The time put into festival creates a true sense of community in the class, which is an unexpected benefit of the endeavor,” says Barb Milliken, a French teacher at the high school.
Audrey Amman, playing the queen, cries at the news that her daughter died in the hunt to find her golden rose. The king attempts to console her; little does she know it was her son who killed her daughter. “Students are given the freedom to be really creative and even silly in their renditions of well-known stories,” says Milliken.
“You get to be silly and do stuff you wouldn’t usually do and be weird,” says Jennison. While performing The Three Billy Goats Gruff, the first goat describes how big and tasty the next goat will be in an attempt to save her own life. “It really is the best thing when people get into it,” says Moore.
In one of the spanish productions, two elves find presents left for them by the shoemakers. One elf soon after forgets her lines while the lights are off and people run in to help with flashlights and a script so that the show can continue. “Everyone is really nice, and if you forget your lines people just laugh … it’s not stressful like other types of productions,” says Hookway.
The AP classes put on much larger productions. This year’s spanish production was a version of the Disney movie Frozen. Kristoff, Anna, and Sven stand on stage as Kristoff points out some holes in Anna’s love story. “It’s a chance to show off all the language you’ve learned and that it wasn’t for nothing,” says Carly Hoag (‘19).
Two students help to clean up after the productions in Mrs. Horsley’s classroom have finished. Student participation helps with the overall cleanup at the end of the event. The world language festival is a fun activity for students to participate in to better experience the language. “It is an opportunity for individuals to work on their oral expression and accents. The process moves from the basics of memorizing lines, to mastering the language and intonation of those lines, to creating the set and developing costumes to make the story come alive. I think you would be hard pressed to find many students who would say that the experience of festival was not a rewarding experience for them,” says Milliken.