—  written by Willow, 12-year old CELC student

Recently Kristy Smith from New Haven’s Long Wharf Theatre visited CELC to offer a workshop related to the play The Mischief Makers, which was under her directorship. Upon arrival she posted a large piece of paper on the dry-erase board. The paper was divided into three sections, and in each section was an animal. There was a spider, a raven, and a fox, along with a description of which mischief each of these characters had made in their respective cultures. Each animal had his own story – Anansi, the Spider is from the Ashanti culture of Ghana; Raven is from the Haida culture in northwestern North America; and Reynard, the Fox is from France.

Next, we learned some of the sign language that would be used during the play. Light is signed by drawing a circle above the head with one’s finger, and then a ray is drawn down from the “sun”. The sign for Raven starts with a beak being made with one’s hands next to the mouth, with an opening and closing of one’s fingers. Fox starts with the sign for the letter “f” that is placed on one’s nose and then twisted. Spider begins with the spreading out wide of one’s fingers, continuing with the placement of the hands next to each other, and concludes with the wiggling of the fingers.

The Mischief Makers at the Long Wharf TheaterCELC students were split into groups to do a short activity after learning the signs. Each group was given a short story and a list of words for which to invent additional signs. After some creative work each group had the chance to read its story and act out the various signs. For example, my group thought of a way to sign sun by making a circle with two hands while stating “burning ball of gas”.

Having learned about the meaning of each of the signs added a lot to my enjoyment when I got the chance to see the play. The characters had more feeling to me because I knew about their cultures and where each culture was. The Mischief Makers workshop at CELC taught me about the different cultures of the world and this knowledge makes me a stronger person.The Mischief Makers at the Long Wharf Theater