Puppetry Teaches Students Powerful Lessons

Craig Duffy, Site Manager for C.A.S.E. after school program at dupont hadley middle school, reviews Kaytek the Wizard production

C.A.S.E. is an after school tutoring program, but it’s also more than that. It’s an opportunity to expand the worldview of middle schoolers. This year alone we have attended professional dance performances, listened to panels discuss race relations after a film about it, and visited refugee families. Students have not only learned about other cultures and global issues, they’ve been able to put faces on these things. By exposing middle schoolers to these types of events, they have the opportunity to discover a world bigger than what they would otherwise see.

Audience members were captivated by the creative form of storytelling and the lessons taught through the production.  

Audience members were captivated by the creative form of storytelling and the lessons taught through the production.  

Last week, our C.A.S.E. students had the opportunity to attend Emmy-award winner Brian Hull’s production of Kaytek the Wizard at The Arts at Center Street! The show was free to youth ages 9 and up and one hour in length.

What made this production special is that it was live puppetry! Many of the C.A.S.E. students had never seen a puppet show before and didn’t know about the famous novel written by Janusz Korczak, who was also a physician, educator, and defender of children’s rights in Warsaw.

The storyline follows Kaytek, a mischievous schoolboy who wants to become a wizard, and is surprised to discover that he is able to perform magic spells and change reality. The story unfolds to teach the lesson that power does not come without responsibility or repercussions and how gifts should be utilized for good.  

Brian Hull and his colleague Mary answer questions from students about the content of the production.  

Brian Hull and his colleague Mary answer questions from students about the content of the production.  

After the show Brian and his colleague Mary got a chance to explain the story in greater detail as well as answer any of the students’ questions. The Q & A included wonderful “How did you’s?” and “Who made those?” On our way back to the C.A.S.E. site, students shared how they enjoyed the show not only because it was a good story but they genuinely thought the puppetry and music was interesting and new. I asked them, “What did you like about the play?”, and many responded, “It was so different, I liked the story, the actors were funny, I’ve never seen a show like that before.”

We are so thankful for Brian Hull and team from the Nashville Public Library who donated the show to NAZA. NAZA in turn, offered two free showings of the production to any of its sites. Of course, we jumped on the opportunity! Joining in on the generosity, the Arts at Center Street donated the use of its venue, sound engineer, hospitality, ushers, ticketing services and advertising for the event, culminating in a full house! The kids at C.A.S.E. were just one group that benefitted from the production. Others from the Hopewell neighborhood and a large crowd from the Academy for G.O.D. also joined in for the production. 

The event made me really happy because I know when young students are exposed to a diversity of communication styles, even stories outside their own culture, they are more likely to accept differences in their day-to-day. The ability for youth to appreciate the diversity of human communication is a step towards tolerance and peace for the future. We're thrilled to have collaboration with other generous organizations who create opportunities like this as often as we can. For my C.A.S.E. students, I know they won't forget it. 


 

The C.A.S.E. program at Dupont Hadley Middle Prep is a program of the Nashville After Zone Alliance. The Nashville After Zone Alliance is a network of coordinated after school programming for Metro’s middle-school students.  NAZA is a partnership among the Nashville Public Library, MNPS, and other existing youth-serving groups. It is modeled on successful efforts in other cities and is organized around geographically-defined zones.