One of our major class projects this year will be an original production of Gilgamesh, the tall tale of a Mesopotamian king that is the oldest written story in the world.
We approach Gilgamesh from three important thematic angles: specifically, our first three themes--Farm-to-Table, Ancient Civilizations, and Global Citizenship.
I have emphasized in class that the Neolithic Revolution was probably the most important development in human history. That 'event'--though it lasted centuries, even millenia--comprised the discovery of farming. My kids ought to be able to relate to you a number of the results of the new, settled lifestyle, which first took shape in Mesopotamia about 11,000 years ago: more food, more children, more stability, language, irrigation, social hierarchy, militarism, artistic, technological and cultural development.....and writing.
Originally a tool of business, writing evolved to articulate our deepest questions about life, love, death, and the other great mysteries. These are duly explored in Gilgamesh, which was originally rendered on twelve clay tablets, smashed to smithereens over the centuries and then painfully reconstructed and translated over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Gilgamesh, King of Uruk, the world's greatest city, runs roughshod over his people. He meets and is matched by Enkidu, the Wild Man. They become bros. Together they slay the monster Huwawa, harvest the sacred cedar, fight the Bull of Heaven, and resist the advances of Ishtar, the Goddess of Love. Greater sadnesses and adventures ensue, but you won't find any more spoilers here.
Auditions for Gilgamesh will be open to all middle schoolers and will happen on Tuesday, October 2. The play will be performed on December 13, 14 and 15. This is an ambitious production, and we'll need all the help we can get--particularly in costuming the kids and preparing technological marvels. Chris Barbeau, sixth grade parent and stage combat expert, has offered to help us with the battle scenes. Tracy Gallup will help produce the artwork we'll use for backdrops; Cara Talaska will coordinate music; and George Albercook is planning some special effects. This will be a true community effort. If you're interested in pitching in, just let me know.