Theater group performs at Fremont

A Friday afternoon play at Fremont Elementary was a howling success, if the children's reaction was any measure.

Students spent the afternoon at a play called, "The Bridge of the Gods."

They first howled by invitation from the coyote, played by Rachel Harmon of the Tears of Joy theater company out of Vancouver, Wash.

Later, they howled from laughter as the coyote performed silly antics such as grabbing a shoe off of one student's foot, sniffing it dramatically then declaring, "That stinks."

The play is based on a native American legend about the Klikitat tribe near the Columbia River. It tells the story through a mixture of song, dance and dialog of two brothers who were chiefs of warring tribes.

The goddess She-Who-Watches tried to help the brothers resolve their conflict. She employed the help of an endearing yet incompetent coyote that often made matters worse.

In the end, the goddess transformed them into mountains because they failed to make peace.

"The big thing about it is that it encourages peaceful resolutions," Harmon said. "It's a timely message right now for the schools."

She-Who-Watches, played by Emily Lambert, counseled Klikitat, "There aren't enough reasons in the world to fight with your brother."

Fifth-grader Adriana Pyle, 10, said her favorite part of the play was when the gods built a bridge across the river to bring the two brothers together.

"It shows when the two brothers start coming together," she said.

Pyle said it also gave her a better understanding of native American culture.

"It's sort of funny sometimes but you get the feeling of how life was for them," she said.

Second-grader David Clary said the play ran smoothly and held his attention.

"It's very nice how everything goes together," he said. "The coyote is funny when he dances."

Principal Jan Sullivan said the company performed for the school last year and she wanted them back again this year.

"The response from the students and teachers was very positive," she said.

Sullivan said she was pleased with this year's performance as well.

"The children were really captivated with the story line," she said. "It helped broaden their perspectives and get a greater appreciation for other cultures."

Harmon and Lambert played seven different characters throughout the play.

The two met at a physical acting school in California and were hired at the same time by the acting company.

"I've wanted to be an actress since I was nine," Harmon said. "Getting a professional job is just thrilling."

She said the two will perform the play about 500 times this year.

Harmon said the play was written by a group of native Americans in conjunction with the company and the masks and puppets were designed and carved by a native American woman.


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