I would guess that most elementary schools in the United States do some sort of holiday themed show around this time of year. I'm imagining manger scenes and kids dressed up as menorahs and other generic symbols of religious holidays. Maybe that stuff is all verboten these days, but that's what I think of when I think of December shows put on by elementary school kids. Some sort of white-washed, genericized, feel-good, holiday pablum.
Not here in San Francisco though. Nosireeee.
My daughter's school's after school program just put on their December show and it took place in a hipper-than-thou gallery and featured a faux-circus and bon-a-fide performance art? You ever seen elementary school kids, dressed all in black, doing performance art? I have.
It kicked off with a circus-themed performance put on by the kindergartners. The show director, wisely realizing that it's hard to shut my daughter up, made her the circus ringmaster. My daughter did a fantastic job. She spoke with confidence, knew most of her lines, was cute as puppies when she forgot a line (or two or three or four), and even improvised a bit. That gal can play an audience.
I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but talking is what my kid does best. Her vocabulary and phrasing is well beyond her years. The problem, however, is that she talks ALL THE TIME. Not only does she tell you everything she thinks, she has to tell you that she's going to tell you it. A typical conversation goes something like this:
Daughter: Daddy, I have to something to show you.
Me: Ok, go ahead, sweet pea.
Daughter: Well, I wanted to show you something very exciting.
Me: Alrighty, go for it.
Daughter: And then, after I show you, I'd like you to say, "That's very exciting" and then you clap and then you say, "I didn't know you could do that..."
Me: Okokok! Just show me!
Daughter: And then I'll say, "Yes, I can do that! Did you know I could do that?" and you'll say...
Me: Time's up! Time for bed.
So, annointing her ring master, the person who introduces the acts and runs the show, was the logical thing to do.
After the circus, the older kids prepped themselves for their beatnik-themed performance art by wearing their most pretentious outfits. Some wrapped themselves in the traditional bohemian style, complete with black turtleneck, while others improvised the black and white look with black soccer shorts and a white logo'ed T-shirt. Then they did this bizarre running-back-and-forth and posing and skipping, essentially using their bodies in motion as art. At some random point they stopped and one kid stepped forward and said, "My name is Mark Nickleby." Another kid immediately followed that up by stepping forward and saying, "My name is Margaret Blotnik." The pace of kids stepping forward and saying their names picked up and soon it was an unintelligible mass of voices, each announcing their identity.
And that's what kids learn in San Francisco schools.