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An Interview with Drama Teacher Logan Cole: On the Process of Creating a Fairytale Mashup with Vassal Lane Students

An Interview with Drama Teacher Logan Cole: On the Process of Creating A Fairytale Mashup with Vassal Lane Students
Posted on 04/29/2015

This is Logan Cole’s first year teaching in the Cambridge Public Schools, and he is bringing new excitement to the drama program at Vassal Lane Upper School. Rather than directing an existing script for the spring play, he chose to take a leap of faith with a group of sixth and seventh graders and create something entirely new, a play they are calling HOOD, with a main character named “Red.” Hood is not your average re-telling of Little Red Riding Hood. While the group started with this classic fairytale as a jumping off point, they ended up with something truly original. I had a conversation with Logan and some cast members about the process. Here is some of it: 

Hood

Masha: How did you arrive at consensus on the central themes of the play? 
Logan: I started the process with an idea: I wanted to see what would happen if we turned a hero or heroine in a fairy tale into a villain, and what would make them be that way.  The ensemble ran with the idea and took it to levels that I would have never imagined.  

Masha: How was the group then divided up (writers/ actors) and how did this arrangement function in rehearsals?
Logan: I had three very eager writers who could not wait to help with that side of the developmental process. After the rehearsals started, I talked with the writers about scenarios that they would like to happen, and then we split into small groups and the actors improvised scenes bases off of the writers' suggestions. Then from that, the writers would write things down and from those scenarios, we developed our play. We realized pretty early on that Red Riding Hood was going to be our villain and thus, The Wolf was going to be the hero, in some ways. 

Masha: What do you like about creating original work and what is challenging? 
Logan: With all the hard work comes the ownership and the pride that the kids have in making a play that isn’t just something that they memorized and performed, but an event that they made happen from start to finish. The most challenging thing about this kind of work is knowing when to stop adding content and start the editing process. So many great ideas get brought up in the process, and not all of them can make it into the final script.  

Masha: What surprised you? 
Logan: The sheer creativity of a group of sixth and seventh graders was by far one of my biggest surprises and I have loved every minute that I have had to work with them. This group of kids is really special. There is no task too big or complex for a single one of them. I gave actors ideas to play with never knowing the level that they would take it to.  For example, I told one actor to learn magic, and she perfected a few magic tricks before the next rehearsal. I asked a couple of the actors to learn a stage combat routine, and the two practiced the sequence on days where there wasn't even rehearsal, because they wanted it to be perfect. I am continually amazed by how much the kids question their characters and work to improve them.  

Masha: What is your favorite part of the show?
Malike (Robin Hood): I like the conflict between my character and my little sister Red. We fight over a lot of things mostly because my character thinks that Red acts like a small selfish child, and Red doesn't want to listen to her big sister. Red has all this power over everyone but she can't control Robin. 

Maryam (Writer): My favorite part of the script is probably the scene with Mama Wolf and The Wolf. She kisses him on the forehead and embarrasses him. It is nice to see that the Big Bad Wolf has an embarrassing mom just like normal people and though he is a wolf, he is more like us humans than we would want to admit.  

Emma (Red): My favorite part of the show is the end. Not only is it a lot of fun, but there is a plot twist that I really like.

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Masha Obolensky
Interim Performing Arts Specialist
Cambridge Public Schools
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HOOD
 is being presented at the Vassal Lane Upper School (Tobin building, 197 Vassal Lane), Thursday, April 30 and Friday, May 1 at 7PM. 
HOOD