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Students' fantastic journey honored

Play presented during Fantasy Festival XXVI
By: Amanda Calzada, Placer Herald Correspondent
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Imagination is a passport to adventure for Nathaniel Wiede and Tamsen Dean, students at Rocklin Elementary School. Their play, “Gretel and Bob and the Curse of the Sarcophagus,” has been selected to tour with B Street Theatre’s Fantasy Festival XXVI this spring. Open to elementary and middle school students throughout northern California, the theater company received more than 150 entries. The top five entries will be performed by professional actors at 153 assemblies in 120 northern California schools through June 8. At each production, Rocklin’s winning playwrights’ names and school will be announced. Their story revolves around protagonists Gretel and Bob, who visit Egyptian archaeological sites via a historical museum after they become separated from their evil stepmother. “We came up with different ideas,” smiled Dean. “And we put them together,” finished Wiede. The writers employed a strategy of writing by themselves, presenting their ideas to each other, and discussing what would happen next. Wiede was inspired to recreate a version of Hansel and Gretel when he discovered the fairy tale in the library. While he managed the characters and their development, Dean created the New York and Egyptian setting. Since they became friends in second grade, the fifth-graders have worked together on various projects and reports. “They are very complimentary to each other,” said Dean’s mother, Joan, adding the two are attentive when sharing thoughts with each other. Wiede’s mother, Connie, said while her son worked very enthusiastically on the project, he wanted the final product to be a surprise. The B Street Theatre Contest has been a six-year tradition in Gloria Chesbro’s class. Rocklin Elementary had one winner four years ago and two winners two years ago. The project began in late November and was completed at the end of January. Chesbro says she introduces the assignment to her class through a literary unit of fairy tales. Students usually begin to generate their original ideas when she asks them to imagine how a story could have gone differently. Guidelines included a 10-page script limit and total of eight characters. Rocklin Elementary submitted 30 entries to this year’s contest. “We weren’t expecting to win,” said Wiede. “We were just expecting to turn it in and get a good grade.” As a teacher, Chesbro admires the connection to social studies that Wiede and Dean have made. “They are both enormously talented, funny, and a pleasure to teach,” she said. A public performance will be given starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 14, at B Street Theatre in Sacramento. The student production will be presented on June 5 at Rocklin Elementary. B Street Theatre is a non-profit, professional theatrical company founded in 1986 to entertain children. Currently, the educational outreach program serves more than 20,000 students in Northern California. For more information, visit bstreettheatre.org ________ Know and Go: What: “Gretel and Bob and the Curse of the Sarcophagus” Written by: Rocklin Elementary students Nathaniel Wiede and Tamsen Dean When: 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 14 Where: B Street Theatre, 2711 B St. in Sacramento. Cost: Free