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This page (Page #9) has creative activities for use in the classroom.  Kids love to learn more about the play’s origin and subject.  Check out these articles and activities related to ArtReach’s popular titles: Snow White, Treasure Island, The Little Mermaid, A Thousand Cranes, Amelia EarhartDon’t forget, a Teachers Guide will come with your School Play Package and contains tons of creative new ideas for your teaching lessons!

The Strange History of the Fairy Tale Snow White
Classroom Material for ArtReach's Play "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs"

To most people, the name Snow White evokes visions of dwarves whistling as they work, and a wide-eyed, fluttery princess singing, "Someday my prince will come" - images popularized by the 1937 Disney animated film. Yet the Snow White theme is one of the darkest and strangest to be found in the fairy tale canon -- a chilling tale of murderous rivalry, poisoned gifts, blood on snow, witchcraft, death&ldots;in short, not a tale originally intended for children's tender ears.

"Someday my prince will come."
Snow White and the Woodsman Snow White Play for Kids Woods creatures in Snow White Play
Locally Grown Theatre, Cottage Grove MIN - ArtReach's "Snow White"

Disney's version was based on the German tale popularized by the Brothers Grimm, originally titled "Snow-drop" and published in Kinder-und Hausmarchen in 1812. The Grimms' Snow White is a much darker, chillier story, yet it too had been cleaned up for publication, edited to emphasize the good Protestant values held by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. Although legend has them roaming the countryside collecting stories from stout German peasants, in truth the Grimm brothers acquired most of their tales from a middle-class circle of friends, who in turn were recounting tales learned from nurses, governesses, and servants, not all of them German.

Thus the "German folk tales" published by the Grimms included those from the oral folk traditions of other countries, and were also influenced by the literary fairy tales of writers like Straparola, Basile, D'Aulnoy, and Perrault in Italy and France. Variants of Snow White were popular around the world long before the Grimms claimed it for Germany, but their version of the story is the one that most people know today. Elements from the story can be traced back to the oldest oral tales of antiquity, but the earliest known written version was published in Italy in 1634. This version was called The Young Slave, published in Giambattista Basile's Il Pentamerone, and is believed to have influenced subsequent retellings - including a German text published by J. K. Musaus in 1784 and the Grimms' text in 1812.

The "German folk tales" were published by the Grimms Brothers.
The Dwarfs of the Snow White Play Several Snow Whites in ArtReach's Playscript
Locally Grown Theatre, Cottage Grove MIN - ArtReach's "Snow White"

The Young Slave contains motifs we recognize not only from Snow White but also Sleeping Beauty (the fairy's curse), Bluebeard (the locked room), Beauty and the Beast (the troublesome gift), and other tales. An aunt-by-marriage plays the villain in this version. In another Italian tale, The Crystal Casket, the villain is a scheming stepmother who was also the young girl's teacher! In a third Italian version of the tale, it's the girl's own mother who wishes her ill - an innkeeper named Bella Venezia who cannot stand a rival in beauty. First she imprisons her daughter in a lonely hut by the sea; then she seduces a kitchen boy and demands that he murder the girl. "Bring back her eyes and a bottle of her blood," she says, "and I'll marry you."

In a Scottish version of the story, a trout in a well takes the role of the magical mirror on the wall. Each day a queen asks, "Am I not the loveliest woman in the world?" The trout assures the queen that she is&ldots; until her daughter comes of age, surpassing the mother in beauty.

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm collected their version from family friends in the town of Cassel, Germany. This version contained several elements from the earlier Italian stories, combined with imagery distinct to the lore of northern Europe. Dwarfs do not appear in the Italian variants, for instance, as dwarfs play little part in the Italian folk tradition. The Nordic and Germanic traditions, by contrast, contain a wealth of magical lore about burly little men who toil under the earth, associated with gems, iron ore, alchemy, and the blacksmith's craft. The Grimms' version starts, like so many fairy tales, with a barren queen who longs for a child. It's a winter's tale in this northern clime, set in a landscape of vast, icy forests. The queen stands sewing by an open window. She pricks her finger. Blood falls on the snow. "Would that I had a child," she sighs, "as white as snow, as red as blood, and as black as the wood of the window-frame." Her wish is granted when Snow White is born, yet the queen's jealousy at her daughter's beauty soon turns her against the child. Driven out of her home, out of her past, away from all that is harsh but familiar, Snow White makes her way through the wilderness to an unknown destination. Her journey begins with the queen's henchman, the huntsman. He defies his mistress and does not slay the girl, but he is no true ally, merely a coward. Beauty aids her once again when she finds the house of the dwarves.

Snow White makes her way through the wilderness.
Play for kids - Snow White Witches in ArtReach's Snow and the Seven Dwarfs Dwarf in Snow White Play for Children to Perform
Locally Grown Theatre, Cottage Grove MIN - ArtReach's "Snow White"

Soon, the queen learns that Snow White still lives and determines to kill her young rival herself. Disguised as an old peddler woman, she sells the girl poisoned bodice laces, then combs her hair with a poisoned comb. After each of her visits, the  dwarfs return home to find their young housekeeper dead. The dwarfs can revive her once, even twice, but with the third act of poisoning, she seems indisputably dead. Her body, too beautiful to bury, is displayed in a clear glass casket -- or else on a woodland bier, or a four-poster bed, or a shrine surrounded by candles. (In other variants, she is thrown into the sea, abandoned on a doorstep or windowsill, sent to the fairies, stolen by gypsies, even carried on a reindeer's antlers.) There are various ways Snow White's spell of death/sleep is broken, but generally not with a kiss (that seems to be a modern addition). The poisoned item must be removed, usually by pure accident. In the chaste Grimms' version of the tale, Snow White's body is handed over to a prince who happens to be passing by. Struck, as all men in this tale are struck, by the girl's extraordinary beauty, he swears he can't live without her. The dwarfs consent. (He's a prince, after all.) "I will prize her as my dearest possession," the prince promises the sad little men. As his servants bear the casket away, one stumbles and the fatal piece of poisoned apple flies from her mouth. "Oh heavens, where am I?" she cries as she wakes. "You're with me," he quickly assures the girl. He declares his love, offers marriage, and promptly spirits the beautiful maiden away. In the final scene of the Grimms' version, the queen is invited to Snow White's wedding, then forced to dance in red-hot shoes until she is dead. It's a scene left out of the Disney film and most modern children's renditions. 

Beloved by generations of children.
Kids rehearsing ArtReach's Play Snow White Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Play
Locally Grown Theatre, Cottage Grove MIN - ArtReach's "Snow White"

Walt Disney made several other significant changes to the Grimms fairy tale when he chose Snow White as the subject of his very first full-length animated film. He emphasized the dwarfs, giving them names, distinct personalities, and a cozy cottage in a sun-dappled wood full of bluebirds, bunnies, and flowers, not snow. The role of the prince is greatly expanded, and the square-jawed fellow becomes pivotal to the story. His love for Snow White, demonstrated at the very beginning of the Disney film, becomes the spark that sets off the powder keg of the stepmother's rage.

In this singing, dancing, whistling animated version, only the queen retains some of the real power of the traditional tale. She's a genuinely frightening figure, and far more compelling than little Snow White, who (drawn as a blonde at one point) is wide-eyed, giddy, and childish, wearing rags (Cinderella-style) at the start of the film, downtrodden but plucky. Although the Disney film was a commercial triumph, beloved by generations of children, critics through the years have protested the sweeping changes Disney Studios made, and continues to make, when retelling such tales. Walt Disney himself responded, "It's just that people now don't want fairy stories the way they were written. They were too rough. In the end they'll probably remember the story the way we film it anyway."  Time has proved him all too right.  (Study and analysis by Terri Windling, edited.)

Outline of ArtReach's Play: Treasure Island: Young Pirates of the Caribbean

1883 novel by Robert Louis Stevenson, written for young people who dreamed of adventure on the high seas. This classic book has endured through the decades as a beloved tale of pirates, ocean voyage and exotic islands. One boy, Jim Hawkins, is the hero of this swashbuckling fantasy, adapted with lightness and comedy for young performers.

As the play begins, Jim Hawkins is an ordinary contemporary boy who having a very bad day. Everything seems to go wrong at school and when he comes home his mother has cooked his least favorite food. Mom tells him that if he does not eat his dinner he will not be allowed to go trick or treating tonight for Halloween. Jim refuses and is sent to his room.

Read the story first to get everyone on the same page!
ECTC Rehearses ArtReach's Treasure Island Kids play pirates in Treasure Island play
In Rehearsal - Emerald Coast Theatre Company, Miramar Beach FL

The Storytellers of the play seem to hover around Jim like fragments of his rich imagination. As Jim indulges in a fantasy of pirates and adventure, his friends the Storytellers take part. When there is a knock at Jim’s bedroom door, Jim assumes it is his mother. But when he opens the door he is confronted with a nightmare of a pirate, Billy Bones.

Somehow Jim has been swept into the classic story! Billy Bones storms in as if he has just arrived at the Benbow Inn and orders Jim to carry in his sea chest. Bones rails and warns Jim to beware of “the one-legged man”. Another pirate, Blind Pew, arrives to deliver a terrible omen to Billy Bones -- the black spot. The black spot is nothing more than a piece of palm-sized paper with a spot inked on it, but pirates know it means they have been marked by their comrades as traitors. The black spot frightens Billy Bones so much that he clasps his chest and falls to the floor. Billy Bones dies comically, leaving Jim utterly astonished.

"Blind Pew delivers a terrible omen -- the black spot."
Kids perform Treasure Island playscript Rehearsals for Treasure Island performance
Emerald Coast Theatre Company, Miramar Beach FL - ArtReach's Treasure Island

When Jim looks inside the sea chest he finds a treasure map. Doctor Livesey and Squire Trelawney call out from the audience and rush onstage to help with the medical emergency. They recognize the map -- it belonged to Captain Flint who disappeared three years ago. They take charge of the situation, calling for an immediate voyage to the Caribbean. Jim is swept up in their plans and soon they are in the Squire’s carriage headed for the harbor and a ship called the Hispaniola. 

The sailors and crew climb aboard the Hispaniola singing, delighted with the prospect of a voyage at sea. The one-legged ship’s cook, Long John Silver, enters with his parrot in a cage. Captain Smollett calls the roll and we are introduced to several colorful members of the crew. As the ship casts off from the shore, Jim is thrilled to see his long dreamed of adventure finally take shape.

"Jim is thrilled, his adventure finally takes shape."
Students play pirates in Treasure Island script
Emerald Coast Theatre Company - ArtReach's Treasure Island

Jim’s fun turns to fear when Long John Silver tells him that every man on board is looking for the treasure map. Jim keeps it close to his chest and realizes he is in danger. When members of the crew begin a spirited talk of mutiny, Jim climbs in an apple barrel and hears the whole conversation. Long John Silver is really a pirate who convinces the others to take over the ship and claim the treasure for themselves.

Skeleton Island is in sight as Jim rushes to tell the Captain of the planned mutiny. The loyal crew members are badly outnumbered and fear for the worst but Jim has a plan to save the treasure and their lives. Jim and Honest Abe hop in a landing boat and row to shore before the pirates can get there.

On the island Jim and Abe encounter a tribe of natives who serve a man known as Ben Gunn. Ben Gunn is a pirate that has been marooned on the island ever since Captain Flint reached it three years ago. Ironically, Ben Gunn -- who loves only cheese -- found the treasure years ago and has no use for it. The natives are desperate to get rid of the pirate and happily give all the treasure to Jim if it means they will take Ben Gunn away.

"X marks the spot, but the treasure has already been dug up."
Simple props for fun pirate play Kids rehearse classic Treasure Island
Emerald Coast Theatre Company, Miramar Beach FL - ArtReach's Treasure Island

On his way back to the ship Jim happens on Long John and the pirates who have captured the Captain and others. Jim offers to give Long John the map in exchange for their freedom and even offers to go with them to where the treasure is buried. But when they reach the place where X marks the spot, the treasure has already been dug up. Jim escapes and the disappointed, angry pirates give Long John the black spot. Long John clasps his chest and dies. When the pirates leave, Long John comes back to life and laughs at his hoax.

Jim makes his way back to the Hispaniola where the loyal crew members are set to take off for home, leaving the pirates marooned on the island. Just before they push off Long John Silver appears and asks Jim to take the parrot with him. Jim tells Long John that he is a very bad man but a very good pirate. Long John tells Jim that pirates are like dreams because they live forever.

"We're Pirates!"
Finale of Treasure Island Play for schools
Emerald Coast Theatre Company, Miramar Beach FL - ArtReach's Treasure Island

As the ship sails away, Jim finds himself back at home in his room with the parrot in the cage. His mother knocks on the door and offers him a bowl of mac and cheese. He can hardly believe that he went so far away and came back home, returning to his ordinary life. The kids are outside his window calling for him to go trick or treating. With Mom’s permission, Jim joins them. Surprisingly, all the kids are dressed as the characters in his adventure. Jim and the kids set off for a night of fun -- just ordinary kids enjoying their dreams.

The Little Mermaid story has many versions
Classroom Discussion

The original story of The Little Mermaid is different from the many versions we have today.  In Hans Christian Andersen's story, the Little Mermaid is the youngest of six princesses in the parallel universe of the undersea kingdom. When they are old enough, mermaids get to go to the surface to see the land, and all the princesses are curious about it, but the Little Mermaid is the most curious of all. When she goes to the surface, she sees the prince, and falls in love with him. She saves his life (though he doesn't realize it until the end), and decides that she wants to marry him. She goes to a witch in her watery world to ask to be made into a human being. The witch agrees, but tells the Little Mermaid that it will be terribly painful, and also that she will have to pay for it with her beautiful voice. In addition, she will only be able to remain human if the prince loves her and marries her. The morning after he marries someone else, she will become foam on the waves - essentially, she'll die.

"She goes to a witch to ask to be made a human being."
The Little Mermaid play for kids Large Cast Play Little Mermaid
ArtReach's The Little Mermaid - Nairobi Academy, Kenya

The Little Mermaid agrees. She becomes human, meets the prince, and charms him with her dancing and her expressive eyes, but he marries someone else. The Little Mermaid's sisters arrive, having struck a deal with the sea witch, and try to get her to save herself by killing the prince. She has the choice of stabbing the prince and letting his blood wash over her legs, at which point she would return to her mermaid state, or allowing herself to die. She dies and goes to heaven.

"Is the Mermaid an admirable heroine?"
The Mermaid and her friends in playscript The Witches' Assistants in The Little Mermaid
ArtReach's The Little Mermaid - Nairobi Academy, Kenya

Compare the Little Mermaid with other fairy tale heroines you've studied and performed such as Mulan and Sleeping beauty. She exhibits curiosity, boldness, and initiative, even if she doesn't succeed in her plans. Her sisters, also, take the initiative to try and rescue her, though they don't succeed. Does this make her more admirable than a heroine such as Cinderella or Snow white? Discuss.

Guide to the Obon Festival in Japan
Background Info for "A Thousand Cranes" School Play

The Obon festival (also known as Bon festival) is an annual Japanese holiday which commemorates and remembers deceased ancestors. It is believed that their spirits return at this time to visit their relatives.

Chochin (paper) lanterns are hung to guide the spirits and Obon dances (bon odori) are performed. Families have reunions and visit the graves of their relatives and make food offerings at altars and temples.

"The Buddhist festival has been celebrated for more than 500 years."
Oban Festival Info for A Thousand Cranes
ArtReach's A Thousand Cranes - Bland County High School, Rocky Gap VA

It is observed from the 13th to the 15th day of the 7th month. However, according to the solar calendar the 7th month is July but according to the lunar calendar, the 7th month is August. Obon is therefore celebrated at different times in different regions depending on which calendar is observed.

The official 2019 dates are August 13-15 though it will be celebrated between July 13-15 in some places. The Obon week in mid-August is one of Japan's three major holiday seasons making it one of the busiest times of the year for traveling. Many Japanese people will leave their cities around August 10 and come back on August 17-18.

Obon traditions and celebrations

On the first day of Obon, people take the chochin lanterns to the graves of their families. They call their ancestors' spirits back home in a ritual called mukae-bon. In some regions, huge fires are lit at the entrances of houses to guide the spirits to enter.

At the end of the Obon festival, families help their ancestors' spirits return back to the grave by guiding them with their chochin lanterns. The ritual is called okuri-bon. Again, the ritual varies slightly between different regions of Japan.

In recent years, floating lanterns (toro nagashi) have gained in popularity. The beautiful lanterns float down a river that runs to the sea to symbolically send their ancestors' spirits into the sky.

The style of the traditional Bon Odori dance varies from region to region but it is normally based around the rhythms of Japanese taiko drums. Dancers perform on a yagura stage and participants wear light cotton kimonos. Anyone can join in the dances which are held in parks, temples, and other public places around Japan.

"Joy is the origin of the Obon dance."
Sadako Sasaki and the Thousand Paper Cranes Sadako's True Story - A Thousand Cranes
ArtReach's A Thousand Cranes - Bland County High School, Rocky Gap VA

Obon festivals in Japan

There are a number of special Obon festivals which tourists can visit using their JR Pass. The Daimonji Festival in Kyoto is probably the most famous. A series of spectacular, 200m-long, character-shaped bonfires are built on mountainsides which are visible throughout the city. Each one is then individually set on fire.

For those who love to dance, the Gujo Odori Festival In Gujo, (Gifu prefecture) is a week-long party where dancers perform each night from 8 pm until 5 in the morning. Over 1.3 million tourists go there each year.

At the other end of the spectrum, if you're looking for a small festival which has preserved ancient traditions, there is the Hokkai Bon Odori. It is also the birthplace of one of the most famous Japanese traditional songs.

The origins of Obon

The Buddhist festival has been celebrated for more than 500 years. It originates from the story of Maha Maudgalyayana (Mokuren). He was a disciple of Buddha who used his powers to see the spirit of his deceased mother. He discovered she had fallen into the Realm of Hungry Ghosts and was suffering.

Buddha advised Mokuren to make offerings to Buddhist monks. On the 15th day of the 7th month, he followed Buddha's advice and his mother was released from her suffering. Mokuren danced with joy which is the origin of the Obon dance.

The Japan Rail Pass


Let's Talk about Amelia Earhart!
Discussions for ArtReach's Amelia Earhart Play for Young Audiences
From Study Guide: The Little Company, Morehead State University, 106 Baird Music Hall, Morehead, KY 40351

What Happened?  Many intriguing and often entertaining conspiracy theories and speculations were made about Amelia Earhart's famous disappearance. Not only were the factors regarding the actual cause of the failed flight in question, but also the reason why her remains were never found. People have guessed at everything from her creating the whole expedition as a ruse to escape her marriage to Putnam, to the idea that she and Noonan crashed on a remote island in the Pacific Ocean and enormous coconut crabs hid her remains in their dwell-ings. For this activity, write your own conclusion about what really happened when she disappeared with her navigator Fred Noonan on their iconic voyage around the world.

"People have guessed: What happened, Amelia?"
Artreach's Amelia Earhart Theatre is great for learning history! Famous Flyer Amelia Earhart
Amelia Earhart - Barter Theatre, Abington VA

Where Is Amelia?  Amelia Earhart's life could be described as one long and tireless journey. For this activity, design a destination for Amelia Earhart. Feel free to interpret this as creatively as you wish; is she in Ireland amongst the cows, or perhaps on a lonely island with the coconut crabs? Keep in mind the adventures Earhart encountered in her lifetime as well as the important people she met along the way.

Sensationalism: In the play, the author uses the Great Depression and the suffering of the American people to convey a theme of desperation. She then displays how the media honed in on Amelia's activities to distract citizens from the issues the country was facing. In today's society we have similar scenarios of media distractions. Name as many instances as you can in which a great tragedy or period of suffering has been dulled by the media with a flush of superficial news-worthy events in pop culture. As a few examples, marriages between popular celebrities, issues within foreign countries, political events, controversies, and anything in the media that catches the attention of the public audience.


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