Testimonials — Theater Magic 2015

Testimonials for

George Washington Carver:

From Slave to Scientist to Saint

March 2015

(Watch the Video)

“Your students have great stage presence, especially when waiting through technical difficulties. And, performing, they’re a delight. I love their choral work and the way they pace and emphasize their lines. They taught me a lot about George Washington Carver. I loved the play.” ~Retired Middle School Teacher

“Marvelous! Very well done. Impressive. Each and every one a star!” ~Teacher, Delphi Academy

“Amazing production. We have always enjoyed every play of your school every year. Thank you!!” ~Teacher, Delphi Academy

“Absolutely tremendous, and what a story to tell! Thank you!” ~LWS parent

“Great production. The kids were impressive!” ~Grandparent

“The play was amazing. The coordination, costumes, acting, and dances were great. Thanks, LWS! We asked our children what they felt and learned from this year’s play:

‘Love wins all hearts.’ I try to remember that.’ ~8-year-old.

’George listens to his inner voice and follows it.’ I try to do that in school and soccer.’ ~10-year-old”

~Visiting Parents

“These plays are always inspiring and educational. What a marvelous experience for young people to develop knowledge of the theater, confidence, and self-esteem.” ~ Audience Testimonial

Testimonials from Delphi Students

“Thank you for the great performance. It was so realistic. I had a blast!” ~Neel

“Your play was magnificent! I liked how you put a lot of facts in your play. My class and I really enjoyed it. We also learned a lot. I thought the costumes you used were beautiful! I appreciate the amount of work you put in your play. ~Noele

“You put on a really great show. It was very educational at the same time. I never knew George Washington Carver went from slave to scientist to saint. I also really liked the sayings that he said. I also never knew that George Washington Carver wrote a letter to Booker T. Washington and that a man died because of an angry mob. I also can’t believe five-year-olds were in the play too!” ~Pranav

“The George W. Carver play was amazing. How are you so brave on the stage? I did not want the play to end. George W. Carver rocks! (So do you!)” ~Jaiswal

“The play that you did was very nice. I like how it kept me entertained and learning at the same time.“ ~Tia

Theater Magic: A Guide to Our Unique Yearly Plays

Every year in March, LWS presents a theater production of the life of a great soul. Our plays have portrayed the lives of St. Francis, the Dalai Lama, Joan of Arc, Martin Luther King, Jr., Jesus, Krishna, Paramhansa Yogananda, Moses, Hafiz, Kuan Yin, and others.

For the children, the process of putting on a long, elaborate theater production is a living laboratory for learning the history of the age and land described in the play, and acquiring lifelong skills of poise and cooperation. Not to mention the inspiration of fully immersing themselves in the lives of a great human being.

The youngest children overcome challenges as they learn their dances and cooperate with the other performers on stage. The older children develop concentration as they memorize their lines.

One boy who had a major speaking part was daunted by memorizing his multiplication tables until his teacher reminded him, “Anyone who can memorize as many lines as you did for the play can do it!” The boy was encouraged and learned his “timeses” without further worry.

Every child in our school faces the challenge of performing before audiences of over 250 adults and visiting children in four performances. Standing onstage while delivering lines with creative feeling is a test of poise. It is a great accomplishment.

One mother remarked after her daughter’s performance, “I couldn’t have done that. I never would have believed that she could. She has always been shy – you have no idea what a transformation this is.”

The following is a list of our plays. The scripts are available for use by schools and other educational institutions. For more information, please 

[button link=”http://vimeo.com/channels/54985″]Click Here to Watch Theater Magic Videos![/button]

The Subject Tonight Is Love:
The Life and Poetry of Hafiz
(Click image to watch video)
Cry From the Heart of the First Americans: The Story of the Great Peacemaker, Deganawidah, and His Follower, Hiawatha
(Click image to watch video)
Compassionate Heart:
The Life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama
(Click image to watch video, or follow this link to a photographic review of the play.)
Poster of the play Mirabai Mystic Poet Saint of India2009
Mirabai: Mystic Poet Princess of India
(Click image to watch video)
Light In A Dark Age
The Story of Francesco and Chiara of Assisi
Morning Star Appears:
A Life of the Buddha
Poster for the play A New Tomorrow: The Life of Martin Luther King, Jr.2006
A New Tomorrow: The Life of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Poster for the play Kuan Yin, She Who Hears the Cries of the World2005
Kuan Yin: She Who Hears the Cries of the World
(Click image to watch video.)
Poster for the play The Subject Tonight Is Love: The Life and Poetry of Hafiz2004
The Subject Tonight is Love: The Life and Poetry of Hafiz>
Poster for Joy, Joy, Joy, The Life of Paramhansa Yogananda2003
Joy! Joy! Joy! The Life of Paramhansa Yogananda

Watch video excerpts.
Poster for the play Krishna, The Beloved2002
Krishna, the Beloved
Poster for the play Jesus Holy Son of Mary at Living Wisdom School in Palo Alto, California2001
Jesus, Holy Son of Mary
Poster for the play "Moses" at Living Wisdom School in Palo Alto, California2000
Poster for the play Joan of Arc, Daughter of God, at Living Wisdom School in Palo Alto, California1999
Joan of Arc, Daughter of God
Poster for the play Lord Krishna, at Living Wisdom School in Palo Alto, California1998
Lord Krishna
Poster for the play The Life of Saint Francis, at Living Wisdom School in Palo Alto, California1997
The Life of St. Francis
Poster for the play The Life of Buddha, at Living Wisdom School in Palo Alto, California1996
The Life of Buddha
Poster for the play The Great Kapok Tree, at Living Wisdom School in Palo Alto, California1995
The Great Kapok Tree
Poster for the play The Fish King's Power of Truth, at Living Wisdom School in Palo Alto, California1994
The Fish King’s Power of Truth
Poster for the play The Shawl of Gold, at Living Wisdom School in Palo Alto, California1993
The Shawl of Gold

Theater Magic — Martin Luther King, Jr. Curriculum Guide

Flyer for A New Tomorrow: The Life of Martin Luther King, Jr., a Theater Magic Production by Living Wisdom School
(Click to enlarge.)

LWS mailed these curriculum suggestions to area schools in advance of our 2006 annual theater extravaganza, “A New Tomorrow: The Life of Martin Luther King, Jr.”

February 8, 2006

Dear Educator,

Here is an opportunity to expose your students to African American history, literature, art, song, and dance…all through the magic of theater!

You and your students are invited to attend the production of A New Tomorrow: The Life of Martin Luther King, Jr. The original script, based on scholarly and literary sources, captures the drama of King’s life and the development of the Civil Rights Movement of the 60’s. There is poetry, dancing and singing.

Living Wisdom School’s 14 th annual Theater Magic Production is much more than a typical children’s play. In fact, educators who have seen past productions find the sophistication of the play remarkable, and both students and teachers are always charmed. I have attached testimonials by parents and teachers from last year’s play on Kuan Yin, The Chinese Goddess of Compassion.

For teachers who want a curriculum connection, we include curriculum ideas for social studies, literature, philosophy, and art for Grades K through 8 in this packet.

Due to the generosity of a grant from the Christensen Fund, we offer free admission for teachers and their classes for the morning performances. Attendance is appropriate for Grades K – 8. Please call to reserve (650-462-8150), or email for more details, school@livingwisdomschool.org. There is a park nearby where students can relax and have lunch before returning to school for the afternoon session.

We look forward to seeing you!


Helen Purcell



K-3 Curriculum Ideas for Martin Luther King Jr.

(Curriculum suggestions for grades 6-8 follow.)


  1. What is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day? by Margot Parker
  2. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the March on Washington by Frances E. Ruffin
  3. Martin Luther King Day by Linda Lowery
  4. Martin Luther King, Jr. A Man Who Changed Things by Carol Greene
  5. A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr. by David A. Adler
  6. Martin’s Big Words by Doreen Rappaport
  7. My Dream of Martin Luther King by Faith Ringgold
  8. Sweet Words so Brave: The Story of African American Literature by Barbara K. Curry and James Michael Brodie

Ideas for K-1

General Introduction to MLK

Read A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr. Ask the children to look at each other and notice what they have in common (body parts, clothes, etc) then notice what is different (hair color and length, eye and skin color). Ask them whether these differences mean that it would be acceptable for you, the teacher, to allow particular children certain privileges. Point out the fact that outer characteristics do not determine our inner worth. Ask what the children have in common that they cannot see from the outside (everyone wants friends, likes to play, loves their family, wants to be loved and cared for).

Ask how the white people in the story were affecting the black people’s lives. Ask the children what they know about MLK, what they think about his life, and whether they have participated in a memorial celebration in his honor

“I Have a Dream” Project


  • Human form that can be cut out
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Construction Paper
  • Markers

Each child can cut out their human form and decorate them with marker and construction paper to create self-portraits. Have each child show the class his or herself and ask children to notice differences and similarities. Connect self-portraits by the hands to be hung up in a chain.

Read Martin’s Big Words. When finished refer to his stanza “I have a dream that one day in Alabama little black boys and little black girls will join hands with little white boys and little black girls as sisters and brothers.”

Ask the children to brainstorm other big ideas that could help the world. Have them begin with “I have a dream. . .” and point out that their “dream” will be a wish for the world. If children are able to write, ask them to write their idea on a piece of paper. The teacher writes as younger children dictate. Attach “dreams” to chain of self-portraits.

Ideas for 2-3

Read and discuss several books listed above and talk about what was important in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life. Refer to discussion ideas for K-1.


Write MLK’s name in center bubble on chalkboard and surround with bubbles in the following categories: Who he was, His Childhood, What he said, What he did, Characteristics, Accomplishments, His struggles.


Make a timeline of the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. beginning with his birth, including the most significant times in his life. When his life is completed children will then do a timeline of their own lives.

Ideas for 4-5

Read and discuss books listed above. Also of interest are Free At Last, The Story of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Angela Bull or Let’s Dream, Martin Luther King, Jr.! P & C Roop

Big words

Read the story listed above, Martin’s Big Words by Doreen Rappaport, and discuss what made Martin Luther King’s words “big” in a metaphorical sense. Discuss how important it was for King to speak what he believed. Play Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream” speech found on the web at http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/Ihaveadream.htm. This speech can be downloaded and printed so the children can read along. Ask them what they notice about King’s oration. One interesting subject for discussion is his use of figurative language. Ask the children what they would say if they spoke out in the manner of Martin Luther King. Let them write these thoughts and share them.

Becoming Orators!

Choose excerpts from Martin Luther King’s speeches (all available on line). After introducing the children to King’s recorded voice and discussing what makes it so compelling to listen to, they can take turns reading the excerpts to the class. As they read, the children can practice voice projection and intonating to reflect meaning and feeling. They can choose an excerpt to commit to memory and present to the class. Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a woman” speech may also be of interest. Finally, the children could draft, revise, and then learn and deliver their own speeches inspired by Martin Luther King.

Mini Research Project

Students could choose a topic of research related to Martin Luther King’s life orculture, such as Gandhi’s ideas about nonviolence (ahimsa), the civil rights movement, or an aspect of African-American culture such as jazz or Langston Hughes’ poetry. They could share their research by presenting a written report, creating a visual representation such as a poster, or by showing a video or playing music and then preparing questions for class discussion. Finally, each student could prepare a question for the class based on their research. These questions could be compiled and students could draw on each other’s research to answer them individually, in pairs, or as a group.

Curriculum Ideas for Martin Luther King, Jr.

Middle School

Was Martin Luther King, Jr. a yogi?

Ancient India ’s Influence On America ’s Civil Rights Movement

Suggested Resources;

  1. Parting the Waters – America in The King Years 1954-1963 by Taylor Branch
  2. Gandhi (1982) A film by Sir Richard Attenborough (contains some graphic violence)
  3. An Autobiography by M.K. Gandhi
  4. Ashtanga Yoga handout – author unknown (attached)

Ideas for Middle School Gr. 6-8

Class Discussion: Martin Luther King, Jr. employed non-violent resistance in his struggle for civil rights in America . His boycott of the buses in the Rosa Parks case and his lunch counter sit-ins are two well-known examples of these tactics.

Where did this idea of non-violent resistance come from? India’s Influence on Dr. King, Jr.

The more astute students may say that Gandhi influenced Martin Luther King, Jr., and they would be correct.

  • Dr. King was first exposed to Gandhi while attending Crozer Seminary where he read That Strange Little Brown Man of India , Gandhi. (Parting the Waters , pg. 74)
  • In 1956 Dr. King is encouraged to adopt Gandhian civil disobedience strategies for the Civil Rights Movement.
  • In 1958 Dr. King and Coretta visit India and the Gandhi ashrams dedicated to non-violence.

Discussion; Gandhi is well known for his non-violent resistance movement in India , but where did Gandhi get the idea?

Patanjali (2 nd century B.C?)

  • Foremost ancient exponent of yogic philosophy
  • Collected already existing teachings into a coherent system
  • Wrote yoga sutras, which are pithy, highly condensed statements that describe the whole gamut of human consciousness, and how to achieve the highest levels of consciousness.
  • Included in the sutras are the Yamas (contols) and Niyamas (practices) which when practiced allows one to live in deep harmony with the universe (see attached sheet for a complete list)
  • Yamas and Niyamas are similar to the Ten Commandments, which are observed by Christians, Jews, and Muslims
  • The first yama is non-violence, also known as ahimsa*

*Note. According to Patanjali if one perfects ahimsa (non-violence), one attains the power to tame wild animals, and criminals become harmless in one’s presence! There is a power that reputedly comes from perfecting each yama or niyama, similar to a video game!

Ahimsa was a principle that Dr. King, Jr. employed in his own life in the face of death threats to himself and his family, bombings of his home, unwarranted arrests, harassment by government officials, and direct violence.


Have the class do an Internet search for a timeline of Dr. King’s life.

  • Study the important events that shaped the life of this courageous, principled man.

Have the students create a timeline of their own lives .

  • Encourage them to include important events such as switching schools, births of siblings, etc.
  • Also have them include events that have influenced them on a personal level such as:
  • Reading an important book
  • Seeing a powerful movie
  • Stories of friends
  • Discovering their favorite artist, musician, actor
  • Family trips
  • Pets
  • Examples of early life lessons
  • Early school experiences
  • Summer camps

This proved to be a fascinating exercise for each student and added insights into each child’s life!

Or have the students create an outline of a video game for the yamas and niyamas and the powers that come with the perfection of each restriction or practice!

Theater Magic — Testimonials from the Audiences

A New Tomorrow:The Life of Martin Luther King, Jr.

March 2006

Flyer for A New Tomorrow: The Life of Martin Luther King, Jr., a Theater Magic Production by Living Wisdom School
(Click to enlarge.)

A very good quality production—a real pleasure to see kids performing…very moving and complete enough to give even younger audiences a good understanding of the material. (Visiting school parent)

The production is stunning. The content is well planned and executed, and you’ve got to love that all the children are involved! (Visiting school parent)

Good role modeling. (Visiting school teacher)

We would come again. This was a powerful, educational performance. Civil rights is a large part of our fifth grade curriculum. (Visiting school parent)

I was a black child growing up when all of this happened. I didn’t know what to expect, but you presented it the way it really was. It really moved me. (Bus driver from a visiting school)

I loved the fact that you represented race by costume. The children who played black people could really get a feel for what it means to be black. I especially loved it that some of the actors played both black and white people at different times in the play. Because I grew up black, I can say that you really got the feeling of it right. ( Palo Alto resident)

I have been on many fieldtrips with our children from Mulberry. This is the best field trip I have been on. I still get goose bumps from last year’s production. (Visiting school parent)

I came because of the subject matter and the reputation of your plays. Your students put on a good quality performance. It was moving. (Visiting school parent )

To see all those children focus in a way to produce something so great is inspiring. We loved it! (LWS parent)

We are so proud of our kids and all of you…we can hardly stand it. I had five guests, and they are all in awe of what was produced in that room. I loved the simple costumes and set. I also loved that some kids said, “Line!” when they forgot and didn’t lose their composure. That shows to me that they feel supported and are not fast to be self critical or embarrassed…a hard lesson if you don’t get it early. Bravo! (LWS parent)

We were blown away by your production…You all have achieved a remarkable community… There was such a wonderful mix of recitations, videos and recordings. It will be life transforming for your students…amazing that you do this annually. It was a privilege to be part of your dynamic community. I adore your class rules. We should all live that way!!” ( Palo Alto resident)

The play was absolutely wonderful. We spent our morning coffee reviewing all the details. We loved every minute….It was completely fun and engaging. What a wonderful treat. We’re all ready to mark our calendars for next year. (Professor of Education, Mills College )

How lucky all of those darling students are to have such incredible, wonderful, adults in their lives. I’m writing about teacher presence. If ever there were such a thing, it’s right there at your little heavenly school. (Professor of Education, Mills College)


Kuan Yin: She Who Hears the Cries of the World
March 2005

Girls perform dance during the Theater Magic production "Kuan Yin: She Who Hears the Cries of the World"
Students perform dance during the Theater Magic production “Kuan Yin: She Who Hears the Cries of the World”

We received the following testimonials from teachers and parents of students from seven public and private schools on the San Francisco Peninsula who attended the Kuan Yin performances. In addition to the regular audience, more than 250 visiting school children, parents, and teachers saw the play (the number grows each year as word spreads).

I am very grateful for the opportunity you have given our students to experience the arts and Eastern thought.”

Great show! It’s unbelievable that all the children from kindergarten through eighth grade participated…and such positive themes in this day and age…! Your creative portrayal of conflict is uplifting.”

“The fact that it is performed by children is wonderful. The play itself is full of action, and the costumes and set are amazing.”

“The play fit in perfectly with our International Baccalaureate Program.”

“It is beautiful and very well done. I love the words of wisdom.”

“A wonderful, incredible, worthwhile performance! I loved the universal spiritual truths!”

“Great for world religion courses in public schools.”

“Great for humanities courses.”

“Our sixth grade students recently studied Asia. Also our school values diversity and tries to expose the children to arts from around the world. This was a wonderful experience, and our students enjoyed and learned from the production.”

“It is both a cultural experience for students to see such a play…and the atmosphere is so friendly.”

“What an incredible performance. It held all of our attention…the best school theater I’ve seen.”

“A painless way to impress philosophy on children.”

“Your productions are beautiful and FULL of meaning.”

“We are always looking for diverse cultural activities.”