At the end of April we had St. George's Day here in England. Apparently it's a big deal. Since we were in the midst of a local geography lesson, it seemed only right to learn more about it and how it's celebrated here.
We already knew the story of St. George slaying the dragon. It has been told and retold countless times, by countless people. Usually it's something we do at Michaelmas, and my go-to version comes from one of the Waldorf books. However, this time I told a version I found over at the Baldwin Project from C. S. Bailey, entitled simply: St. George and the Dragon. And the girls were quick to say that they preferred this retelling much more than the others.
Because Sunburst had been studying the Crusades a few months ago, we were reminded about how St. George's cross was used to identify a crusader and then brought to England by Richard the Lionheart to identify English troops in battle.
We set out to hear the poem by William Blake ("And did those feet in ancient time") that was turned into a hymn of sorts and named "Jerusalem." It's a wonderful song-- even Emerson, Lake and Palmer covered it in the 70s. The girls were so enamored with the song that we were inspired to learn it. And that was Monday. Our first attempts to get the tune down were hilarious, but by Tuesday we had begun to show signs of improvement.
The girls both made some lovely St. George drawings for their books. Sunburst wanted to draw hers in pencil, while Moonshine asked if she could use pastels. Moonshine's drawing had such an otherworldly quality to it that it reminded me of program covers from Waldorf school plays. The more I thought about it, the more convinced I was that we finally had a large enough cast to put on a proper play. The kids were immediately excited by the idea and thought it would be a great surprise for their dad Einstein.
We created a program using artwork from the girls' main lesson books. I included the words to "Jerusalem" so that it would be a nice keepsake for the kids. Even Kitty Bill picked up the lyrics rather quickly.
Here is Sunburst's drawing on the inside of the program:
And Kitty Bill was inspired to draw a picture, as well:
Both Sunburst and Moonshine wanted to help write the dialog, so we worked on it together in the afternoons as they found the inspiration. Somehow the entire thing took on a life of its own and turned into a musical-- this is what happens when you have children that don't ever stop singing.
Sunburst played both the king and the dragon. She managed to transform a cereal box into a convincing dragon's head. Moonshine took the part of the Princess Sabra, with the comic exception that she wanted to be eaten by the dragon. Kitty Bill played St. George. His role was fairly straight forward, but he managed to bring some comedic personality to the role when, overcome with wonder by Sunburst's convincing dragon death scene during rehearsals, he shouted, "Awesome!" We laughed so hard that we decided to leave that line in for the performance.
They had a fantastic time, and Einstein was completely impressed. He couldn't believe that they had pulled off the show without him catching any hint of it. And of course he was taken with their performances.
We managed to capture the entire performance on video to send the grandparents back in the states. I think it will be quite the treat for my British grandmother in particular. I fully expect she will be singing along.