November 5, 2019 2:27 pm
A history lesson on voting in the United States could put a kid to sleep but not when Benjamin Franklin tells it.
MINNEAPOLIS — It will be years before kids head to the polls but some are already thinking about voting thanks to a pair of storytellers from the past.
In the week leading up to Election Day, the National Theatre for Children went around to 10 Twin Cities schools, performing Voice Your Vote.
Set in 1789 Philadelphia, post American Revolution, the play begins with characters Benjamin Franklin and apprentice Abigail Gordon. Franklin sends Gordon on a mission to inform the public about how democracy works. Along the way, she encounters several characters, who help her understand key terms, including voting, ballot, platform, polling place, and Election Day.
At the same time, kids in the audience have the opportunity to learn.
“Trying to get them started young and teach them about how they can vote and what they can vote for,” actor Evan Jackson said.
Jackson, who is also the theater’s casting and company manager, plays all characters except Gordon. He even plays a character who tries to stop people from voting.
It’s like School House Rock but without music.
“I thought it was educational and fun,” said Aleena Pulley, a fifth grader at Minneapolis Public Schools’ Cityview Community. “Some people, they don’t like to like hear people talk about educational stuff so sometimes you have to make it a little bit fun.”
Pulley says the play taught her that voting takes place in churches and schools.
Second grade teacher Faye Wooten says theater can help drive home lessons taught in the classroom.
“We were learning about government this year in our reading curriculum so I’m glad they had some background before attending the program,” Wooten said.
She believes her students will bring what they learned from the play back to the classroom.
“Oh yes,” Wooten said. “They’re going to say, ‘Let’s vote for a game,’ and they’re probably going to vote on their snacks.”
The National Theatre for Children is based in the Twin Cities and performances are free. If you’d like to schedule a play at your school, you may request a reservation online.