Cowan Palace: Don’t Drink Seawater And Other Stuff Kids Know

This week, Ashley’s asking her theatre students to help write her blog.

Greetings, friends! Here’s hoping your week has been full of pie and sans 23 Ides of March stab wounds.

I’ll be honest. I’ve piled my plate a bit too high this year. I mean the Bachelor finale and these Fuller House episodes aren’t going to watch themselves. And between being a mom and working a full time job, I’ve also been busy in rehearsal for Custom Made Theatre’s upcoming production of Middletown (my first full length show since 2013!), trying to be a motivated Maid of Honor for my sister’s upcoming May nuptials, and teaching preschool drama classes on the side.

Because this week was a particularly busy one, I thought I could commission my four year old students to write my blog for me. Their pay? Stickers! Obviously. I’m a pretty generous boss.

So, before we had our warm up and after I had them “shake out their sillies”, I asked my Monday class of five kiddos for their thoughts.

STICKER copy

TEACHER ASHLEY: Why do you guys think doing theater is important?

KID ONE: Where are the stickers?

TEACHER ASHLEY: Safe and sound in my bag; keeping my book and my “Jar of Sillies” company. So what do you think? Why do you think drama class is a good idea?

KID ONE: I got new skies! Can I tell you something? I went to Tahoe!

KID TWO: I’m thirsty. I need water!

KID THREE: Me too! (coughs in sudden thirsty despair)

TEACHER ASHLEY: Okay, okay. Let’s take a quick trip to the water fountain. Let’s make a line and pretend we are giraffes! (Kids quickly line up as giraffes and tiptoe to get a drink. Once there, they consume the water in a craze)

KID THREE: I hate seawater!

KID FOUR: Me too! It’s so salty!

KID THREE: I drank seawater! Yuck!

KID ONE: Can I tell you something? I like my skies.

TEACHER ASHLEY: Let’s come back and make a big circle! Let’s see if we can make it look like a giant pizza!

KID FOUR: Seawater is so gross!

TEACHER ASHLEY: C’mon, guys! Let’s see if we can come back to our circle in ten seconds. Remember, if we get through a great class, we can celebrate with some stickers! (Kids immediately run and form a circle on the colorful carpet) Great job! Okay, does anyone else want to share something?

KID FIVE: When do I get to be a mermaid?

TEACHER ASHLEY: You can be a mermaid when we play our storytelling game! Do you think that’s why doing theater is important?

KID FIVE: I’m going to be Ariel. (whispers) And have magic powers.

TEACHER ASHLEY: I can’t wait to see that. Does anyone else want to pretend to a special character today?

KID ONE: Tiger. But this time he really dies.

KID FOUR: Yeah! I’m a tiger too!

TEACHER ASHLEY: Maybe the tigers can fall asleep and wake up with some mermaid magic.

KID ONE: Fine. But then they’re lions.

KID TWO: I want to be a fairy princess baby! And we all go to the castle to watch a movie.

TEACHER: Great! So… is that why theater class is important? Because we get the chance to use our imaginations, work together, and tell stories?

KID THREE: Can I see the stickers?

Pictures by Kid Five and Kid One featuring a magical princess and mountains, respectively.

Pictures by Kid Five and Kid One featuring a magical princess and mountains, respectively.

Ah. Okay. Well, there you go! The kids and I spent the rest of class playing games and making up new stories. I got hugs and laughs and even some drawings to take home! But most importantly, I got a needed distraction and energy boost to help survive these next few weeks with a very full plate. I also learned that maybe money can’t buy you happiness but it can buy you stickers. And stickers pave the way to happy trails.

Cowan Palace: The Year of the Horse and a Whole Bale of Pun

Ashley Cowan explores the Year of the Horse. With an alarming amount of horse puns.

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And just like that I realized we were already a month into 2014 . Yikes! Is this year already passing quickly for you guys or is it just me? Well, luckily for us all we’re right in the middle of another beginning. We’ve just transitioned into the (lucky) 7th spot of the Chinese Zodiac: The Year of the Horse! You’re probably thinking, hey, what does that mean? And I’m probably thinking, hay is for horses! Because I’m almost always thinking of some kind of pun. But that’s what I’m here for, neigh-sayers! A crash course in what the Year of the Horse means and how it could lend a helping hoof to the theatre scene. Don’t rein on the parade; it’s time to horse around!

So, some basics: the Chinese New Year begins with a fifteen day party kicking off with the first new moon of the calendar year. The year officially started on January 31, 2014 and will conclude on February 18, 2015. There are twelve animals that cycle through the Chinese zodiac: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. Our physical world is made up of five key partners: earth, water, fire, wood, and metal. Both factor into designing our year ahead. Recently, we let that sneaky water snake go and as our Trojan friends once did, we invited the wood horse in to celebrate.

It’s believed that those born under their chosen animal may grow up to display certain personality traits and depending on the characteristics of the animal, the year can also follow particular trends. For example: horses are known for their speed. They are noble, quick travelers who represent an elegant freedom. They can ease into the unfamiliar and embrace spontaneity. So it’s believed that the wood horse year could be a time of surprise adventure, epic victory, and even bold romance. You’ll find energy levels may be higher. And drive and focus can result in production.

It’s also the time to consider jumping off into the unknown and exploring something new. But because things can move so fast, you must be confident in your choices or you may get thrown far in the wrong direction. Overall though, the Year of the Horse is considered a lucky year! So go get a lottery ticket!

Or. Consider that theatre project you’ve been brewing over for months. Or years. This could be your time to kick it into high gear. While the water snake of 2013 may have been solid in middle ground territory, our pal, the horse, treads in more extreme grounds. A snake year is often a time for careful thought and deliberation while a horse year can inspire faster immediate actions.

That said, the wood horse of 2014 could bring about some large ups and downs. Some will enjoy great strength while others will suffer from its weakness. The most common advice several astrologers offered was to have confidence in taking a leap of faith and trusting your wings. Follow your instincts and stop thinking so much. Besides, next up is the wood sheep year of 2015 and that’ll be all about enjoying life’s slower comforts.

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This year should focus on truly enjoying the adventure of life and reveling in some of those impulsive ideas. Though be mindful that because of this tendency, folks tend to overspend without considering the consequences because they’re so focused on the moment. So that prized theatre production you’re working on could cost you. My advice? Be the optimist the year seems to lend itself to but keep your eyes open on that leap of faith and pay attention. Learn from your surroundings as you take them in and trust your potential success. And try to budget accordingly before you leave the money and run.

Personally, I’ve already started to sense some of the creative energy waiting to pop. It feels like many folks are taking the chance to self-produce or start a project they’ve been sitting on for too long. Well, according to the Chinese zodiac, the odds are in your favor. Take advantage of that and let’s make more work! More plays, more art, more puns!

In whatever you do, I wish you a triumphant Year of the Horse. And remember: you’re never pasture prime to ride or fly. (I’m a real night mare with all these, huh?)