Thursday, November 22, 2012
Alston Middle School recently spent an evening in the 19th century.
The school hosted an 1830’s era county fair, complete with carnival barkers, musicians, dancers, and storytellers. Underpinning the event was a tribute to one of America’s most famous and influential authors, Edgar Allen Poe.
It is all part of a year long project funded through a S.C. Department of Education Arts Curricular Innovation Grant, according to AMS theater teacher Adam Weiner, who created the program.
“Over the course of the school year, this project will involve every student in the school,” Weiner said.
All of Alston’s arts classes are creating new art pieces based on the scientific, mathematic, historic and literary events of the time period 1800-1850, he said.
“What took place on October 29 was an 1830’s County Fair, which had a tribute to Edgar Allen Poe, carnival barkers selling their wares musicians, and re-enactors creating historical events,” Weiner said. “The students did a great job – they really went all out with it.”
The idea was not only to present Poe’s work but also to give audiences some insights into every day life during that time period of American History.
In the gym the dance program took a popular orchestral work of the time, Symphonie Fantastique, and created an improvisational piece of performance art. Attendees then toured a “haunted house” where each room was based on a different Edgar Allen Poe poem or story, Weiner said. Stories presented were Annabel Lee, The Raven, The Masque of the Red Death, and The Tell Tale Heart.
Students adapted, designed, and acted in this part of the project, Weiner said.
A number of people both at AMS and in the community helped bring the project to production, Weiner said. Teacher Shannon McQueen directed the dance performances. Teachers Cheryl Heyres and Genie Shaughnessy coached the wandering players. Principal Thad Schmenk contributed in all the stages of the development of the project, and many teachers and staff also contributed ideas and suggestions along the way, he said.
Halloween Express in North Charleston supplied many of the props at reduced or no cost, Steve Yeomans and Trident Technical College built additional flats for the Edgar Allen Poe house, the Alston PTSA organized the bake sale at the fair, and the Summerville Alumnae Chapter Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. made several donations.
Weiner said more events in this series are planned in December in which orchestra, band, piano, and vocal students will be featured.