2017 Arts Partnership & Arts Week: The Black Squall Production
This year’s Arts Week and Arts Partnership aims to integrate the arts and Ocracoke Island history. The activities and classes with these two programs will culminate in a student community performance of The Wreck of the Black Squall at 7 PM, Thursday, April 13 at the school gym. Both the Arts Partnership and Arts Week will include elements of performing arts from juggling and steel drums, to singing and tumbling. Each group of students, will have opportunities to showcase what they have learned as part of a retelling of this fascinating Ocracoke story.
The Tale of the Black Squall
When the Black Squall wrecked off of Ocracoke Island in April of 1861, the storm washed ashore the remnants of a circus troupe, including giant tents, silk ribbons, dancing ponies, and a menagerie of animals. Walter Howard wrote an account of this wreck in the 1950s, as he learned it from Old Kade Williams, who was 17 in 1861. Nixon’s Circus, sometimes called Nixon’s Royal Circus and Menagerie of Living Animals, was en route from a performance in Havana, Cuba to Philadelphia, when it encountered a terrible storm. According to Old Kade:
“Well the beach was strowed with animals from Lord knows where. Tigers, lions, bears, and there was one there whose neck was longer than his body.”
“That was all kinds of things that washed up on the beach. Even to bales of hay and fodder. They had that for the animals, I guess.
“Silks and satins, and costumes by the hundreds. The purtiest you ever seed.
“Tents, I’ll bet there was a thousand of ‘em. The men folks made sails for their boats out of them and one big tent I remember they put that up out on the beach hills and held a camp meeting in it.
Although the Arts Partnership and Arts Week will not require any additional presentations or research by teachers, we hope that the Ocracoke School staff will be able to take the time to share this story with their students, and maybe even incorporate it into their own curriculum. From the shipping trade to the Civil War, the natural sciences to mid 19th century circus culture, there are many wonderful educational opportunities housed within this story. We have provided some links below for further reading.
Student Activities and Opportunities for Involvement
The stage production will offer a variety of ways for the students of Ocracoke to be involved. Visiting instructors will be working with different classes on pieces that will become incorporated into the final show. Skills will include local activities like Ocracoke Squaredancing and Fig Cake Baking, group movement and dance, circus poster design, circus arts like tumbling, clowning, juggling, and steel drums and percussion.
Middle School and High School students will also have opportunities to learn about set construction and design, lighting and sound, stage managing, and will be able to to particpate as members of production teams that will be working towards the final week. Although 11th & 12th graders will be traveling during Arts Week, they will still be able to participate in the Arts Partnership programs leading up through April. Stay tuned for more classes and opporunities.
For a video interview with Philip Howard on the Black Squall visit http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news032113.htm
For Walter Howard’s Story visit www.villagecraftsmen.com/news072507.htm
If you have questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to David Tweedie at firstname.lastname@example.org or 252-921-0260. Thank you!
Although there will not be a charge for the performance on April 13, Ocracoke Alive will welcome donations in support of the estimated $15,000 that the Arts Partnership and Arts Week will cost.
Tax-deductible contributions can be made here online or mailed to Ocracoke Alive, PO Box 604, Ocracoke, NC 27960..
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