Local students explore history, literature with Lord of the Flies

By Andrea Balzano, Herald-Times

A group of sophomores from the Academy of Science and Entrepreneurship, formerly known as MCCSC’s New Tech High School, trooped through the rain more than a mile to attend a matinee of Lord of The Flies at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater.

Thanks to the Cardinal Stage Company’s IU CreditUnion Education Initiative, Pam Gunkel and Claire Roth’s joint social studies and English class at got a reduced ticket rate, giving them the opportunity to attend.

Ralph SpearsRandy White, Artistic Director of the Cardinal Stage Company and director of the Lord of the Flies production, said that it is part of Cardinal’s mission to make sure theater is accessible to kids of all economic backgrounds.

“We connect kids to theater regardless of their ability to pay for it,” said White. “Live theater is a way we come together collectively to talk about who and what we are. It helps us understand who we are as a people and who we are as a community.”

“This is something our kids might not do otherwise,” said Gunkel. “With an opportunity from Cardinal, I know immediately that it will be well done and the acting great,” she said.

Although the students didn’t get to read the novel because the school doesn’t have funding for a class set of the book, they discussed it and did preparation activities before the play.

Sitting for two hours soaking wet didn’t stop them from enjoying the show, though, and it certainly didn’t discourage them from interpreting the meaning of the text. The day after the class saw the play, they had a robust discussion about the book, its relation to human savagery, and how it fit into the historical context of the time it was written in.

“It provides an excellent philosophical point to go back to throughout the year,” said Roth.

“Literature is a great way to teach history, and literature is so much a part of history,” said Gunkel.

During the class discussion, Gunkel, the history half of the duo, encouraged her students to share their thoughts of the play, while Roth, the English half of the pair, interjected with important tidbits from the novel. The students came up with a list of “I likes,” “I wonders,” and “takeaways.” The students especially liked how the actors used the entire theater as the stage, running through the aisles with spears and pigs and chanting loudly as they sank into savagery.

Tidy Whities

“It kept us into it when they would come up behind us,” said Sarah Wanchic, a student in Gunkel and Roth’s class.

“The part where they cut the pig’s head off gave me chills because that’s the part when they realize the beast is within themselves,” said Dylan Killion.

The students also thought the actors did an excellent job portraying boys.

“The older actors did a really good job acting like 6- to 12-year-olds, and the younger kids seemed really relaxed and into their character,” said Wanchic.

Killion said, “It was interesting that little kids might not understand the importance of it, but they did an amazing job portraying the character.”

Seeing the play gave Gunkel and Roth’s class an opportunity to connect history with literature.

“I’m glad we got to go, and more teachers should have their students do things like that because it gives you an outside view of things,” said Killion.

The Lord of the Flies is a pivotal work of literature, and for them to be able to experience it is pivotal,” said Roth.