We sat down with authors John Heath and Lisa Adams to talk about their latest creation, Social Skills: How to Interact with Human Beings. Let’s see what malarkey they decided to share with us.
Q: Is this the one about superheroes? Which superheroes are in the play?
Welllll….let’s just say a tiny little company such as ours cannot rub elbows with the great comic book franchises that keep pumping our movie theaters full of such high-quality entertainment. We invented our own characters, ones that are a little more…erm…Bad Wolfian.
Q: That sounds suspicious. Do they actually have superpowers?
Some of them do; some of them think they do; all of them need to learn how to use their powers in appropriate ways. We wanted to make it clear that social skills are simply that—skills. People can be very talented in other ways, but that doesn’t mean social skills necessarily come easy for them. And the good news is that everyone can practice and improve.
Q: It sounds like you’re speaking from experience.
Oh no, we haven’t improved yet! That’s why we’re writers.
Q: But seriously.
Seriously, we decided to write this show because the information is just so important. Being able to listen, communicate, read body language, and deal with conflict affects people (for better or worse) in EVERY aspect of their lives. And it’s hard not to notice that people skills seem to be on the decline. More time spent online and in solitary activities means less opportunity to practice in real social situations. Also, many kids on the autism spectrum struggle with social interactions. In short, people skills are vital to everyone, so why not teach them explicitly?
Q: So is Social Skills appropriate for kids on the autism spectrum?
Yes, but this play is really for everyone! All of our plays have been used successfully by kids of all abilities and learning styles—this one is no exception. We think it will be a bit hit both in mainstream and special education classrooms.
Q: Last words?
Pickle! Anhedonia! Haberdasher! Oh, and you can learn more about the play here!
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! Okay, it looks nothing like a bird or a plane. It’s a play!
But we can’t really be expected to resist all superhero jokes, not when we are so excited about our latest show, Social Skills: How to Interact with Human Beings. Here’s the story:
Captain Invisible, Freeze Frame, The Green Pen, and Info Blast are superheroes with a problem. Well, a lot of problems. Their superpowers are sketchy, their sidekicks are avoiding them, and they’ve been flagged by the ISS (International Society for Superheroes, of course) as “not mixing well with the general population.” Ouch! Fortunately, their Advisors at the ISS want to help them improve, sending them on a quest to master people skills. With the help of human beings all over the city, they’ll learn the importance of listening to others, thinking before they speak (or post things online!), paying attention to body language and social cues, speaking with tact, regulating their emotions, facing conflict, and making amends.
This show can be used successfully in either mainstream or special needs settings, and it is well suited for performers on and off the autism spectrum!
- Social skills come naturally to some people more than others — but they can be practiced and taught
- Listening attentively to others
- Contributing to a conversation: what and how much to say about yourself
- Thinking before you speak
- Paying close attention to body language and social cues
- Being tactful
- Monitoring your emotions and reactions; stepping away before things get out of hand
- Facing conflict and apologizing
- Online conduct: think before you post something on the internet; conduct yourself online as you would in person
- You don’t have to be friends with everyone, but you should strive to be friendly
Experts deeply alarmed
Misfit writers are the last people you’d expect to be dishing out interpersonal advice, but we have had such great feedback about our character education and life skills plays that we just have to keep tackling the tough issues. In January we’ll be releasing Social Skills: How to Interact with Human Beings. This play features some very sad superheroes whose lack of social awareness is preventing them from making new friends. Fortunately, some savvy humans are willing to teach them what they need to know!
Topics will include:
- What’s a conversation, anyway? (And what isn’t!)
- Showing interest, listening, making eye contact
- Sharing vs. bragging
- Knowing what to say, what to leave out
- Being tactful, thinking before you speak
- Reading body language and social cues
- Appropriate conduct on the phone and online
We are pleased as punch with our latest show, Alice’s Adventures with Idioms! While our lyricist John Heath always works his genius in our shows, this play is truly his linguistic masterpiece, set to incredibly fun and catchy music by Mike Fishell. And since it contains more than 150 idioms and similes, Alice can truly be an expansive teaching tool. It’s great for native speakers and English Language Learners alike.
For a list of the idioms, similes, and vocabulary in the show, just click here and click on the “Vocabulary” tab. You’ll also be able to read the first third of the script and listen to samples of all the songs. And of course we have links to the common core and other national standards that the play fulfills.
Synopsis: Alice follows her cat and dog down the rabbit hole and arrives in…the land of idioms! And a crazy place it is. All the familiar Wonderland characters — the White Rabbits, Tweedledee and Tweedledum, the Mad Hatter and March Hare, the Cheshire Cat, the King and Queen of Hearts — are there to share their kooky wisdom as they help Alice and her pets navigate the mysterious world of the English language. In addition to exploring the meanings of specific expressions, students will understand the difference between literal and metaphorical language and learn that idioms have a historical basis.Read More
Who knew? The characters and episodes from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass make the perfect canvas for exploring figurative language! In this show, Alice will have to learn how to understand idioms, similes, and more if she is to navigate the mysterious world of the English language…er, Wonderland.
Superheroes are great at saving the world…but did anyone ever teach them how to have a friendly conversation with an actual person? No! In this fun play, students will gain some essential life skills by learning how to conduct themselves interpersonally—whether in person, online, or on the phone. (Since we already have detailed plays about conflict resolution, bullying, and manners, this show will only touch briefly on these topics. The focus here is social skills.)
You can actually pre-order these plays right now. As always, if you order at least two plays at the same time, you can get them for $30 each, including the plays on pre-order. We’ll simply ship you the available items now and send out the rest as soon as they are published.
We’re really excited about our upcoming plays and we hope you are too!Read More
Test-Taking Strategies, our third play of the 2012-13 school season, is here!
We really think you’ll enjoy this fun 20-minute play. Those of you who aren’t “allowed” to do plays might get the go-ahead with this one, since the show is test-related and will help improve student scores. But the material will be helpful to all students, even those in schools that already encourage creativity and music in the classroom.
Here’s the setup: Through an inter-species exchange program, four magical creatures arrive in their new classroom — only to learn that they have a TEST the next day! What will they do? They don’t have tests back in their world! Never fear, though, for the students and some special visitors will teach them all they need to know about test preparedness.
Here’s the curriculum we cover:
- Invest in your health: eat healthy foods, wear comfortable clothes, and get a good night’s sleep
- Come to class every day, listen and focus, be prepared by bringing the right materials
- General test strategies: Read the whole question, look for key words, answer the questions you know first and come back to the harder ones, check your work
- Strategies for multiple-choice questions: answer every question, try out every answer, eliminate answers that you know are wrong
- Suggestions for dealing with test anxiety: breathe, think positive, count to ten, take a break
- An important reminder that “you are not your score”!