‘Are you proud of us?’: Ebb and Flow students overcome stage fright with Christmas shadow puppet performance

Students at a Manitoba First Nation school celebrated Christmas in a unique way that helped the young performers overcome their stage fright.

The grade five class at Ebb and Flow School decided to put on a Christmas performance for the first time in years, but teacher Christina Desjarlais said her students were nervous about getting up in front of an audience.

“I think part of that has to do with this generation being so full of anxiety, the shadow (puppets) actually helped my students be themselves,” said Desjarlais.

The class decided to tell the traditional story of Christmas through shadow puppetry, using their hands and other objects to cast shadows on a white sheet stretched across the stage. Desjarlais said the students rehearsed the performance for weeks.

“We did it in the classroom as if it were in the shadows,” she said. “It was the last week we did the actual shadows.”

She said the class decided to hold the school’s first Christmas performance in years because they wanted to bring a message of hope during difficult times.

“For people there’s stress, maybe even hoping gifts will satisfy temporarily, and so this year, I thought I would do the story about Christmas because it’s hope for all people,” said Desjarlais.

She said the shadow puppet format helped the kids relax and enjoy the show. “They were themselves, they had fun, they were smiling back there,” Desjarlais said. “It helped them be themselves and still not, you know, not be so afraid of the people looking on at them.”

Desjarlais said the shadow puppet show was a huge success, and she’s received many compliments that she’s excited to pass on to the students after the holiday break.

“I can’t wait to come back after the New Year and let them know, like how much their show was appreciated by all who watched,” she said.

“I was proud of them. That was the first thing they asked when they were done, was ‘Teacher, are you proud of us?’ Oh, yes. I’m always proud of you.

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