'Making' the Connection

School News
October 3, 2017

Last summer, VMS converted the areas adjacent to the technology lab into a significantly expanded MakerSpace. For the uninitiated, think of a MakerSpace as part R&D lab, part garage workshop, and part art studio. On one side, there is a laser cutter and a large-format 3D printer. On the other, there is a sewing machine on a bench that is also home to a vise. There’s also an assortment of many other tools—both analog and digital—and lots of random parts and materials.

The MakerSpace is home to the middle school Theatre Set Design course led by Mr. Cox, which is creating props and digital backdrops that will be used in this year’s lower school production, The Rainbow Connection. The show weaves together age-appropriate adaptations of three Shakespeare plays: Taming of Shrew, Julius Caesar, and Romeo & Juliet. The photo essay below highlights some of the work that the middle school students are doing in this cross-age, MakerSpace/Theatre collaboration.  

Sword parts made from plywood using the laser cutter are glued together and sanded in preparation for painting. 

Students use grinding tools and routers to carve patterns in Styrofoam sheets that will be painted to create the illusion of a stone facade.

The shows require many panels so the labor is divided. While some carve, others paint the carved reliefs with dark paint to resemble mortar. The panels will be painted again with a lighter color that will be the stone.

Simultaneously, another student works on a digital design for a backdrop that will be projected during one of the scenes.

The middle school students are also creating props for The Rainbow Connection. The sword seen here was created by laser cutting the forms from plywood that were then glued together, painted, and wrapped with faux leather to create a handle.

Middle Schoolers sewed belts and scabbards for the swords. How many kids do you know who can sew?

This kind of work makes a mess, so each class includes lessons in proper cleanup and care for tools to make sure that this shared space is ready for the next class.

On stage, Theatre Director, Mr. Jones, demonstrates proper stage sword fighting technique to the the fourth graders using finished props made by the middle schoolers.

A quick aside about The Rainbow Connection: there IS a frog, but no it’s not Kermit, and this is about where the connection to the Muppets ends. The show weaves together three Shakespeare plays: The Taming of the Shrew, Julius Caesar, and Romeo & Juliet. You heard correctly, lower school is doing Shakespeare. And while the scripts are adapted to be age appropriate, they are written for middle school aged students, but our lower schoolers have proven themselves up to the task over the past few years.

The stories are connected by the frog, who is trying to discover why there are so many songs about rainbows and what the different colors represent. In the end, there is a message about how different aspects of life weave and blend together, like the colors of the rainbow, and the show very intentionally ties into this year’s Gala Theme “Woven Together.” There is much, much more to this signature Greg Jones amalgam, but suffice it to say that this show promises to raise the bar yet again and is something you WON’T want to miss.

The Rainbow Connection shows in the Abuisi Theatre at VMS Thursday & Friday, November 2-3 at 5:30pm. Admission is free and the show is open to the public.