Remember kindergarten? You know, the good old days of naps, fingerpainting,
milk and cookies and learning the basics?
Well, if not, don’t worry, because Jacksonville State University’s Drama
Department is happy to refresh your memory with its production of All I Really
Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, a musical adapted from the book by
The book and the play are actually made up of many different stories,
including “Hide and Seek,” “MOTB” and “Tomb Without a View.” Each story focuses
on a rule that was taught to us early on, but that we sometimes forget (or
ignore) as we get older.
The book and the play both begin by pointing out that we learned simple rules
in kindergarten for how to live. Some include: Share everything, play fair,
clean up your own mess, don’t take things that aren’t yours, say you’re sorry
when you hurt somebody, wash your hands before you eat, flush. They seem simple
As we become older, though, many become more complicated, the gray areas
widen and the rules seem harder to obey. For instance, consider “share
everything.” Someone tried applying that to music not too long ago. The result
was Napster. The record industry and the government quickly told us that sharing
everything in music over the Internet wasn’t legal.
Still, that doesn’t mean the rules that applied in kindergarten can’t have
meaning in our adult lives. To achieve that sense of we’re-all-in-this-together,
actors in All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten play several
roles, sometimes using their own names. Justin Ridgeway, a senior at JSU, says
using their own names comes from “the idea that it could be anybody. It could be
any person anywhere doing this role, so that way it relates to everybody.”
Sophomore Robert Copeland says everyone is an actor is some form or fashion.
“Who you are, your personality, your character ... you’re acting,” he says.
“You’re putting on a show for people to know who you are. You are putting on a
show for everybody.”
Director Susan McCain, who teaches acting at JSU, stresses the “struggle” of
the play’s characters, the obstacles they encounter. Many of the actors and crew
say they’ve encountered their own struggles while rehearsing the play.
Laura Lundy, a sophomore majoring in biology, says she struggles with a
full-body jump she must accomplish during the play.
Back in kindergarten, her teacher emphasized “share everything,” but Lundy
found her own philosophy as she grew up.
“The rule for my life now is to do your best and try your hardest at
everything you do,” she says.
For Shaniqua “Shai” Bailey, a sophomore and mother of three, the struggle is
synchronizing the play’s words and actions — not to mention synchronizing the
fact that she’s double majoring in psychology and drama.
Her kindergarten lesson was “be kind,” something she’s experienced in her own
“Down here, we’re very hospitable to everybody. If you see somebody coming,
you hold the door open for them,” says Bailey, who grew up in New York. “Up
north, (she slaps her hands together), I got hit in the nose. Everybody’s on the
go up there or they just really don’t care because that’s not how they were
raised. So I got hit in the nose (with a door). But he wound up being the guy
that needed a ride home. He was walking home in the rain and guess who picked
him up? So be kind to everybody because you never know when you’re going to need
Eleanor “Ellie” Mellen, a junior who attended kindergarten in Castroville,
Texas, says she is dealing with combining the play’s deaths with her own thought
processes for the “Tomb Without a View” scene.
But her kindergarten lesson, which she still adheress to, is to respect other
people, something she’s seen lacking at JSU.
“You see that every day,” she says. “In all of the classes, so many people
don’t have respect for their teachers, when we could just treat each other
better and treat each other with respect. Go to class and pretend like it was
either you up there or one of your parents.”
Ridgeway struggles with finding the time to do the play and graduate at the
same time. Right now, along with the play rehearsals, he is working on two
But he also recalls what his kindergarten teacher told him: “Don’t hit
people,” he says with a laugh. “That’s what I got paddlings the most for.”
All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten
What: JSU production.
When: 7 p.m. Tonight-Saturday &
Thursday-Saturday, Nov. 15-17; 2 p.m. Sunday & Sunday, Nov.
Where: JSU Ernest Stone Performing Arts Center, Second Stage
Theatre, Room 338.
How much: $9 adults, $7 senior citizens & JSU
personnel, $5 students and military; must be purchased in advance, no sales at
door; some shows already sold out.
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