New theater classes for 3- to 5-year-olds, called Magic & Mayhem, have come to Spontaneous Celebrations and Curtis Hall in Jamaica Plain. The classes include movement, music and storytelling games and grow into creating productions—writing, costuming and performing—completely from scratch.
From pretending to walk across a room full of chocolate pudding, to creating dances by symbols, to group composing, the classes “get kids to explore using their voices, faces and bodies to express themselves and various characters,” teacher Sarae DeCoster-Pacetta said.
After four years of teaching adults, DeCoster-Pacetta realized she was ready to be “broke but happy”—and started Magic & Mayhem Theatre, a young kids’ theater and storytelling class.
“I realized that I’d not had any joy in my professional life in a long time,” she told the Gazette. “It was time to leave behind stressful though meaningful work and spend time creating with kids again.”
So DeCoster-Pacetta quit her two teaching jobs and returned to children’s theater in September.
While the first four weeks of the eight-week class is devoted to creativity games, the second half is spent creating the class play. Kids each choose a character and think of things they want their character to do, “and we start forming a story that includes all of their ideas,” DeCoster-Pacetta explained.
Kids rehearse the action and create costumes and props—dog houses, castles and pirate ships—from their own wardrobes and from cardboard boxes, before performing the piece for their families.
The first class plays, performed last week, centered around stolen ice cream ingredients.
“An elf named Zap, along with his dogs and miniature horse, called upon the help of Dorothy [from the Wizard of Oz], Spider-man and a clone to get their ice cream ingredients back from Ragoya the dinosaur and the witch who had stolen them,” DeCoster-Pacetta said. Another play involved a glass-blowing mother and her daughters going on an adventure with a pirate and a trampoline jumper to get their milk back from “the man with 15 legs.”
The extra 13 legs were created from a belt adorned with 13 stuffed socks and sleeves, DeCoster-Pacetta said.
Parents say their kids enjoy the class so much, some of them are returning for second sessions.
“We decided to enroll [5-and-a-half-year-old son] Anand because the class was a unique blend of a bunch of creative things—creating stories, representing stories in drawings, acting out stories, creative movement,” mother Divya Kumar told the Gazette. “[The class is] a place where my kid could let his imagination run wild and could create and express his ideas and stories collaboratively with other kids. I think it’s unique in that it encouraged creativity and collaboration at the same time.”
“He really loved the class and looked forward to it every week, and he would always show us the stories he had created and would eagerly and enthusiastically talk about how much fun he had,” Kumar said. Anand will return to the class’s winter session, she added.
DeCoster-Pacetta is also planning in adding a second class this winter for older, home-schooled kids, ages 5 to 7.
DeCoster-Pacetta’s morning classes are offered at Spontaneous Celebrations at 45 Danforth St. while her afternoon classes are offered at Curtis Hall at 12 South St. For more information, see MagicAndMayhemTheatre.com