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 ball..for the apple….. because at that moment one apple was traced.. It had rolled onto the stage and settled below Snow White’s chair…
One enterprising 4Th grader, who was the presenter for the evening skipped onto the stage merrily, said “Hi Snow White! How are you? I’ll just be back..” and adroitly picked up the apple and went back stage….
There were no hitches after that… The prince brought Snow White back to life and the dwarfs cheered and the curtains came down……
Much later, while the Chief Guests and the School Management warmly appreciated the teachers’ efforts in making the play a success… I wondered whether we would be game enough to direct another play next year…. Maybe …”Alibaba and the 40 Thieves”? Want to direct it anyone?
Some people believe that when the weather starts getting colder and the leaves start to fall, it is time to put away the gardening tools and wait until next spring to work on their garden again. Wrong.
Winter is an important time to maintain your garden's health and assure yourself a good crop for next year. You may think that might take too long to prepare your garden, but the truth is that it takes less than one day to prepare your garden for the upcoming winter. When the nighttime temperatures drop to less than forty-five degrees Fahrenheit for more than four days in a row, or frost is forecast for your area (usually around late October or November) you know its time to begin preparing your garden. You should begin by evaluating your garden design, check which plants grew well in the past season, and which plants did not do well.
Fall is a good time to decide which plants will remain in you garden next year, and which ones should go. It is also a good time to decide which new plants you want to grow. To make your garden more colorful and healthy, be sure only to plant the more hardy plants during the fall so that they can withstand the winter.
Some plants that will do fine being planted in fall are: rudbeckia, Aster Novi-belgii, Anemone Japonica, panicle hyandea, endive, escarole, and Brussels sprouts. You can find all of these and more in gardening magazines or your local nursery. After you have finished this you should begin cleaning up your garden. Begin by pulling out weeds that may have cropped up, and raking fallen leaves. Weeds and rotten leaves can carry insects and diseases that might be harmful to your garden. You should also rid your garden of spent annual plants, and harvest your vegetables and other plants that cannot withstand the winter weather.
After fall has come and gone, the leaves will be off your trees and you can see the rotten branches. Trimming off the unwanted branches from your trees isn't necessary to your gardens health, but may help later on by not dropping branches on your plants and not blocking too much of the sun. If you have younger trees you should consider wrapping them and supporting them with stakes to help them survive the winter wind and cold.
Putting mulch over your garden for the winter can be a helpful way to protect plants from sudden temperature changes and heavy snow. For mulch you can use about five inches of shredded bark, pine needles, or a variety of other materials. You have to be careful not to mulch too early, because some insects may still be alive and able to take shelter in it for the winter.
Once you are finished with your gardening tools you should clean them and make sure they are in a safe place where they won't rust and you know where they'll be for next year. Before winter comes you should always set out slug repellent, as slugs are one of the worst bugs to have in your garden. If you have a pool or fountain in your garden, be sure to take out any fish that you have in them and bring them inside. There's nothing sadder than a fish frozen in a block of ice.