On November 21 and 22, third graders presented Queens, a music-filled continuation of the “Egyptian Play” tradition that stretches back some 30 years at Shore. In this year’s version, directed by third grade teachers Sam Hamlin and Anne Babcock, the queens and pharaohs of ancient Egypt stage a telethon to save their deteriorating tombs and pyramids. Based in part on the real-life problems caused by tourism in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings, the musical drama features the music of Queen and refers to the Live Aid telethon which marked the climax of singer Freddie Mercury’s career.
“Inspired by a third grader who often led his classmates in a rousing rendition of ‘We Will Rock You,’ we decided to capture the power of that song and other well-known Queen songs,” said Hamlin. “From there it was a short leap from the story of the Live Aid fundraiser to our own ancient Egyptian version. A group of pharaohs sitting around in the afterlife and bemoaning the decay of ancient Egyptian monuments are inspired by their queens to host their own telethon to save those deteriorating tombs and pyramids.” The “televised” event is hosted by noted archeologists from the past and present, including Zahi Hawass and Salima Ikram.
The Egyptian Play ties closely with the third grade curriculum’s focus on ancient Egypt. The authentic costumes and props are reused year after year, and the rest of the time many serve as decorations in the third grade classrooms. According to Hamlin, “As with every Egyptian play, one primary goal is to break up the script into enough parts so each third grader gets a meaningful role, and no one student is burdened by too many lines. Because the queens would be the most prominent singers, we decided to feature a large number of pharaohs. We are thrilled by the fabulous job done by this year’s cast.”