An Independent School • Grades 5-12

Middle School Drama: Seattle stories

Sixth graders put the finishing touches on their Seattle Stories during dress rehearsal.

Sixth graders write and perform monologues based on personal experiences.

Spring 2017

Have I ever told you about the time…
… I fell out of the canoe at camp?
… I got stung by a nest of bees?
… My little brother literally stabbed me in the back?

In the Seattle Stories monologues that 6th graders write and perform in Jenny Estill’s drama class, anecdotes like these become the stuff of real theater. The students start by writing a monologue based on a true story in their lives, set somewhere in the greater Seattle area. “We talk about what makes a good story,” says Estill. “What is good material? How do you construct it? And how do you deliver it? It has to be something you are excited about telling.”

Many of the monologues are about “type 2 fun” – episodes that are less fun (or no fun) while they are happening but make good stories afterward. As Laura H. ’23 said in her monologue, “When it comes to telling moderately interesting stories about my life, I always have something to tell about thanks to the chaos [my little brother] creates for me. This is what type 2 fun is all about!”

Seattle Stories has evolved over time. What started as a simple storytelling exercise evolved when students proposed working together as a group onstage. While one student delivers a monologue, classmates serve as the set, contribute sound effects, and play secondary characters. “They approach storytelling with an open mind,” says Estill. “They are physically brave and creative and willing to play anything.” The project ends with a performance for students’ friends and families.

“There’s something beautiful about them seeing their own lives as being worthy of being written, spoken, and performed,” she says. “Ordinary life is full of great stories – their lives have this rich, beautiful material in them."

Learn more about Lakeside's drama program on the Drama page.