FREE RESOURCES: Behind the Scenes [ Page 6 ]
Background info about the stories and themes of ArtReach's plays
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This page (Page #6) has stories and helpful info from behind the scenes of ArtReach productions!  Push back the curtain and check out all these great ArtReach titles: Peter Pan, Wizard of Oz, Pinocchio, Sleepy Hollow, Little Mermaid, A Thousand Cranes, Mulan, Sword in the Stone, Christmas Alice in Wonderland, About ArtReach, A Christmas Carol, The Little Mermaid, Amelia EarhartDon’t forget, a Teachers Guide will come with your School Play Package and contain lots more background articles and info about your play!<pan>

Children's Theater Group Produces ArtReach's Peter Pan
Entertainment & Life - Wellington Daily News - Wellington, KS

Citing the need for children to be with their peers and have an outlet for creativity, Twilight Players theater group director Janet West gave abridged plans for a children's theater workshop this summer in Greensburg, and his efforts have been met with deep appreciation and success.

"There are many studies that indicate that children in drama and fine arts programs develop balance and maturity," West said.

"This year's favorite was Peter Pan."
Kids Perform Peter Pan Captain Hook & Crocodile in Peter Pan
ArtReach's PETER PAN - Ardtornish School, St Agnes, SA, Australia

She went on to say that, especially this year with the interruption of COVID-19, children need to understand how to be safe and live without fear.

She said that an important factor in the continuation of the workshop and production of Peter Pan was to provide the children with a structure and a safe place to be normal and to play with their friends, with children their age.

The Twilight Players is a community theater program that is part of the Twilight Theater and Community Auditorium, organized a workshop for young actors and actresses in Kiowa County. This is a weeklong workshop, and the second annual hosted by the Twilight Players. Last year, after a week of practice and rehearsals, the young people started The Wizard of Oz. This year's favorite was Peter Pan.

"Drama and fine arts programs develop balance and maturity."
Tick-tock Crocodile in Peter Pan play Kids Love Peter Pan script The Darling Dog in Peter Pan play
ArtReach's PETER PAN - Ardtornish School, St Agnes, SA, Australia

"I'm absolutely delighted with the way things turned out. They are great kids and they responded well to teaching. They worked hard and they are a great group of kids. Loved it," West said.

More than 100 people attended the performance last Saturday in Greensburg to watch Peter Pan which took place at the Twilight Theater. West and his crew hope to continue this traditional workshop for years to come.

The cast was a long list of young people from Kiowa County. Jiwoo Chang played Peter Pan, Addy Carrillo played Tinker Bell, Amelia Barnes played Wendy, Sebastian Favela played Michael, Andy Kyle played John, Brennan Arredondo played Captain Hook, Cash Lothman played Smee, Alaina Kost played Mother Darling, Gabi Cervantes played Tiger Lily, Javan Oberle played the Great Big Little Panther chef, Truman Barnes played Tootles, Grayson Ballard played Skylights, Evelyn Stokes played Pearl, Natalie Koger played Starfish and Eli Cervantes played the crocodile . Savannah Hall was the narrator. She played a key role as a coach on stage.

"I'm absolutely delighted with the way things turned out."
Large Cast Play of Peter Pan for kids
ArtReach's PETER PAN - Ardtornish School, St Agnes, SA, Australia

West ran the show. Amber Cambell was the musical director assisted by Randy Rinker as pianist. Angelique Libby helped with musical auditions and Sue Greenleaf provided snacks to make sure no one was too hungry at rehearsals.

"The Wizard of Oz" set for Thursday-Sunday run at Reynolds Center
Cast of 37 has kids ages 7 through 17

The Yellow Brick Road leads to Southern Arkansas University this week as Magnolia Arts presents Katherine Schultz Miller's stage version of "The Wizard of Oz."

ArtReach's The Wizard of Oz
Poster for The Wizard of Oz Dorothy and Toto in Wizard of Oz play
Just Imagine Youth Drama School, Tasmania AU

Two different casts of area young people will perform the play on separate days. The first cast will be on stage at 6:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday. The second cast will be featured at 6:30 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

Performances will be held in Foundation Hall at the Donald W. Reynolds Campus and Community Center. Tickets are $5 and may be purchased at the door or at the Cosmopolitan Ladies Club.

Director Janet Rider-Babbitt said Tuesday that about half of both casts consist of seven-to-17 year-old stage newcomers, while the other half includes young people who have participated in other Magnolia Arts productions, including last year's musical "Oliver!"

"Munchkins, talking trees, flowers and flying monkeys!"
Lion and Toto in ArtReach's Wizard of Oz Green  Tin Man in play Wizard of Oz
Just Imagine Youth Drama School, Tasmania AU perform ArtReach's The Wizard of Oz

Miller's "Wizard" is a non-musical version that lasts about an hour. The action is moved along by narrators who fill in the gaps between the play and the famous film.

While major characters in the total cast of 37 are split between the two troupes, both casts will share Munchkins, talking trees, flowers and flying monkeys - consisting mostly of the younger members of both casts.

"They get to perform every night because their parts are smaller," Rider-Babbitt said.

Abby Pieratt and Bailee Weston have unofficial duties as Munchkin, tree, flower and monkey wranglers.

"There are a lot of new kids. We've tried to even them out so there are new kids with some seasoned kids," Rider-Babbitt said. "It is working well."

 "It's definitely a boost for their confidence."
Hurricane in Wizard of Oz Cast of Just Imagine's production of the Wizard of Oz
Just Imagine Youth Drama School, Tasmania AU perform ArtReach's The Wizard of Oz

The casts have been rehearsing for five-and-a-half weeks. Rider-Babbitt praises the performers for picking up their lines and acting skills.

"The kids are enjoying it. There are some kids who were silent when they first came in, and now they are speaking loud. It's definitely a boost for their confidence," Rider-Babbitt said.

The younger people have also taken charge of lighting, sound effects and props, she said.

The cast in order of appearance are as follows. The Thursday-Friday cast members are listed first. The Saturday-Sunday cast members are listed in parenthesis.

ArtReach's Pinocchio Performed As A Six Person Ensemble
The Advocate, Mt. Hood Community College, Greshem OR

Mt. Hood Community College MHCC's theater program will be opening its production of "Pinocchio" on Nov. 5.

The department has been working to prepare for the upcoming ensemble. Along with the typical practices, actors have been trained to move like puppets. Pinocchio, the lead character, also presented his own challenge: how to make the nose grow?

"What does it mean to be a real boy?"
Pinocchio becomes a real boy Pinocchio performed by colleges
ArtReach's Pinocchio - Siena Heights University, Adrian MI

To answer these questions, theater teacher Mace Archer sat down with The Advocate. 

Who are the leads?

Our Pinocchio is Ezra Virvin. She just moved from Arizona. A gal named Michelle Chase plays Hickory Cricket. In the Disney story they call him 'Jiminy,' but in the original, his name is Hickory.

Is this rendition closer to the original?

It is. A lot of people go, "His name's Jiminy!" Well&ldots; no, it's not.

"Pinocchio was a good lesson for kids."
Pinocchio fun play for kids to perform Pinocchio script play ArtReach's Pinocchio Play
ArtReach's Pinocchio - Siena Heights University, Adrian MI

Why Pinocchio?

This opening show in the fall is primarily geared toward young audiences, and we thought the story of Pinocchio was a good lesson for kids. We also thought it would have really great roles for our actors to play, as the characters are very bold. They have to play puppets, so trying to figure out how to move like a puppet has been fun these first couple of weeks. The goal is to move from your joints.

Is there a modern twist on it?

I wouldn't say so. Scenically though, it's great - since it's an Italian story from the 1800s. The language is very contemporary, though.

"To be a real boy means to be honest and to be a good friend."
Kids love ArtReach's Pinocchioplay Fun play for families pinocchio Lots of puppetry in Pinocchio
ArtReach's Pinocchio - Siena Heights University, Adrian MI

Are there any actors who really stand out?

It's an ensemble play, which means there are only six actors who play every role. So that's really fun - to see them transition through their roles. It's not meant to be one greater than the other, but a group. I think Ezra is great as Pinocchio.

Does the nose actually grow?

It will. Our costume designer is working on engineering and figuring out how it can physically grow. There's some great videos on YouTube on how to do it.

 "It has really great roles for our actors to play."
Puppets in Pinocchio play Blue Fairy in Pinocchio play
ArtReach's Pinocchio - Siena Heights University, Adrian MI

As college students, do you think there's a little bit of Pinocchio in all of us?

Absolutely. And the great thing about Pinocchio is that he's trying to become a real boy, and the idea of what it means to be a real boy, and the lesson that comes with that: To be a real boy means to be honest, and to be a good friend, and to be reliable.

By Pam Johnson, The Loafer Online

The Headless Horseman. Oh, the image that brings to mind: a black cloaked, horseback riding, headless figure holding a jack o' lantern. Spooky, classic ghost story material. The perfect thing to see this Halloween season.  The Jonesborough Repertory Theatre will present Washington Irving's well-known speculative fiction, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, for three weekends, October 21st-November 2nd.

"The perfect thing to see this Halloween season."
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow Sleepy Hollow play for kids Halloween Fun - The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
ArtReach's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow - Aurora Theatre, Lawrenceville, GA

Set in the 1790s in the fictional settlement of Tarry Town, the legend says that Major Andre, a Hessian soldier who was beheaded by a stray cannonball during the Revolutionary War, haunts the roads of the area in search of his head. As Irving puts it, "The ghost rides forth to the scene of battle in nightly quest of his head."

But there's a lot more to the story than a Headless Horseman. Meet Ichabod Crane, the nervous, superstitious new schoolmaster of Tarry Town; Katrina Van Tassel, Ichabod's soon-to-be romantic interest; and the manly man Brom Bones, who is in love with Katrina. Put these three together and you have a hilarious, entertaining tale that will make you laugh, make you empathize, make you cringe, and make you shudder. And it will make you see something good, something bad, and something of yourself in each of these characters.

"The ghost rides forth to the scene of battle in nightly quest of his head."
Sleepy Hollow Comedy Kid Friendly Sleepy Hollow
ArtReach's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow - Aurora Theatre, Lawrenceville, GA

Ichabod becomes the unfortunate target of Brom Bones and his gang, and the unsuspecting target of the manipulative Katrina Van Tassel.

"Katrina is nasty," said Heather Allen, who portrays the beautiful daughter of a wealthy farmer. "She wants to make Brom jealous." This she does by showering her attentions on poor Ichabod. Or should we refer to him as "poor" Ichabod? He actually has his own devious motives. "For Ichabod, it's not about Katrina's heart, but about her wealth." So they both are playing a game of hearts.

Then there's Brom Bones. "He's a bully," said Derek Smithpeters who brings this character to life. "He likes to pick on Ichabod, especially when it becomes known that he believes in ghosts." A perfect set-up of man versus the legend of the Headless Horseman.

We have three characters, each with their own agenda. Who is the good guy? Who is the bad guy? Or is it fair to really label them like that? 

"The Playwright focuses on the lightheartedness & comedy."
Funny Legend of Sleepy Holow script Funny Script for Sleepy Hollow
ArtReach's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow - Aurora Theatre, Lawrenceville, GA

In talking about people in general, Derek said, "Everyone's not all truly good or bad; both are in them. Kind of Jekyll and Hyde." That's why we can see some of ourselves in these characters. We can identify with their struggles, with their goals, and with their eccentricities. That's what makes the story ring true.

And that's also what makes us laugh: poking fun at these truths about human nature. "The playwright keeps it true to Irving's story, but she focuses on the lightheartedness, the comedy," said director Janette Gaines. "Yes, it's intense because there is a Headless Horseman. But there are times in our lives when we just need to laugh, and that's what this playwright focuses on."

Janette and the actors stressed that this show is family friendly.

"It's light entertainment, and appropriate for all ages." Janette said. "It's the kind of story to tell around a campfire."

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is adapted for the stage by Kathryn Shultz Miller and is sponsored by People's Community Bank. Rounding out the engaging cast are Adam Honeycutt, Kari Tuthill, Christopher Ward, and Tara White.

The JRT is located at 125½ West Main Street in Jonesborough. Shows will run on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are $16, general admission, $14 for students and seniors. To purchase tickets, call the Historic Jonesborough Visitors Center at 423.753.1010 or go online to

Gaslight Drama Camp to perform ‘The Little Mermaid’ this weekend
Summer Drama Camp features ArtReach Play for Kids to Perform

Tickets are now available for this year's Gaslight Drama Camp performance of the Musical "The Little Mermaid" by Kathryn Schultz Miller.  Performances will be 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.

"The girl with the beautiful, musical voice."
Kids Summer Camp Performs ArtReach's Musical The Little Mermaid
Gaslight Theatre Summer Camp performs ArtReach's "The Little Mermaid"

During a frightful shipwreck, a prince is tossed in the sea and rescued by a mermaid princess. When she sings him a haunting lullaby, he falls in love with the girl with the beautiful, musical voice.

Drama Camp is sponsored by Park Avenue Thrift, The Lounge and Bauman Matching Grant, as well as many more individual and business donors. A total of 41 campers began the camp on May 31 and have been working to create a perfect under the sea experience.

Directors for this year's camp are Catina Sundvall, Angela Gallagher, Nathan Sundvall and Sylvia Earhart. Tickets can be purchased in person, at the box office, or online.  Contact the box office at (580) 234-2307 or visit Gaslight Theatre on Facebook.

"A total of 41 campers create perfect experience."
Summer Drama Camp Cast of Kids
Gaslight Theatre Summer Camp performs ArtReach's "The Little Mermaid"

The Gaslight Theatre of Enid, Oklahoma, was founded in 1966 under its original name of Enid Community Theatre. Gaslight is one of Oklahoma's oldest and most active community theatres. Enid Community Theatre's organizational mission is twofold: to provide a wide spectrum of high-quality theatrical entertainment to a broad audience in Enid and the surrounding communities, and to provide a setting for nonprofessional actors, directors, designers, and technicians to learn and practice their art.

ArtReach's A Thousand Cranes at Hutchison School
Middle School students learn about Japanese culture and theatre

Congratulations to the cast and crew of our middle school play on a spectacular run! The girls ran two plays, "Hana's Suitcase" and "A Thousand Cranes," in repertory over the weekend. They treated the entire Middle School to a matinee last week and hosted more than 350 guests during the evening performances.

 "Traditions of Japanese theatre of Noh, Kabuki, and Bunraku were used."
Japanese traditions in A Thousand Cranes play Folding A Thousand Cranes in play Students perform Sadako Play
ArtReach's A Thousand Cranes - Hutchison School, Memphis TN

To prepare for the show, the girls studied the plays in rehearsal, but also in their original books. Borrowing from the theatrical traditions of Japanese theatre of Noh, Kabuki, and Bunraku, music and metaphor were used to show the story in an abstracted way in "A Thousand Cranes." Actors appeared in black traditional koken costumes* to help the audience focus on the aural and visual aspects of the props, showing time and place for Sadako's story. In "Hana's Suitcase," the staging helped the audience understand events that were happening in present day and the past. The timeline blurred through creative use of space and lighting. Shadow play was used to create mysteries for the children to uncover. Both plays featured real girls and real events during and after WWII and explored themes of remembrance, hope, and peace.

"The plays explored remembrance, hope, and peace."
Middle School Performers play about Sadako Play about A Tousand Paper Cranes Middle School Play Sadako
ArtReach's A Thousand Cranes - Hutchison School, Memphis TN

This particular show had a rich and rewarding rehearsal process. Our inclusion director, Rachel Shankman, a second generation survivor of the Holocaust, met with the girls to share her family's story. Her conversation helped them understand what happened to the survivors after the liberation of the concentration camps. Our cast also took time to meet with Lara Hana Brady and her father George Brady. Mr. Brady shared Hana's story and a first-hand account of the Holocaust with our girls. This conversation was an amazing opportunity to learn about history and the events in "Hana's Suitcase" from the man who lived it as a boy. Dr. Catherine Phipps, Head of International Studies at The University of Memphis, also met with our cast members to explain what life is like as a middle-schooler in Japan. She was able to answer all our girls' questions about schools, everyday life, and time-honored traditions in Toyko.

"Cast learned what life is like as a middle-schooler in Japan."
A Thousand Cranes for Middle School Performers Sadako Play for Middle Schoolers
ArtReach's A Thousand Cranes - Hutchison School, Memphis TN

* (theater) A black-clad person who enters the stage to rearrange the set, unremarked by the actors.

Fort Scot Biz - Fort Scott News - Schools (KS)

This year's annual Fort Scott High School Tiger Drama Camp performs The Legend of Mulan on May 28 and 29.

Nearly 40 students in 1st through 9th grade have spent two weeks at camp preparing for the production. Performances are at 7 p.m. on May 28 and 2 p.m. on May 29 at the Fort Scott High School Auditorium.

The playwright, Kathryn Schultz Miller, describes the show this way, "Mulan inspires us all with a grand desire to be the best we can be: honest, tenacious and brave. She leads us on an epic journey over mountains and rivers - through the hills and valleys of fear and courage and human emotion. Mulan knows it doesn't matter if she is a boy or a girl. She just wants to make her mark, prove her mettle, and leave the world a better place."

"40 students have spent two weeks at camp preparing."
High School kids rehearse Mulan Kids learn stage fighting in Mulan
Fort Scott High School Tiger Drama Camp rehearses ArtReach's 'The Legend of Mulan'

The character of Mulan is played by 8th grader Ashlyn Cannon. Other notable characters include Captain Cheng, portrayed by freshman Mykael Lewis; Pika the Rabbit played by 6th grader Abel Chaplin and 7th grader Chrislen Newman; Imoogi the Dragon played by 7th graders Izzy Budd and Ana Rupprecht; and Momo, the Emperor's Assistant, played by freshman Kaiden Clary.

The camp and show are directed entirely by FSHS Thespians.

Senior Christina King is the Director, assisted by sophomore Regen Wells who also serves as Stage Manager and Choreographer Kinsley Davis, a junior.

Technical staff include sophomore Lexi Hill - Lighting Designer, senior Khris Patel - Sound Designer, senior Breena Cox - Music

Director, sophomore Silvia Moreno - Props and Set Designer, and junior Izzy Carreno - Music Operator. Many other Thespians serve as acting coaches and leaders.

During the 2-week camp, students learn about most technical theatre areas such as lighting, sound, costuming, stagecraft, and make-up. They also help to create the artistic set decor and learn sabre combat.

Tickets for the show should be purchased in advance at  Adults are $8 and children are $6. There may be tickets available for purchase at the door, but seating is limited. Masks and social distancing are required. Doors open 30 minutes prior to showtime.

The Advocate: Mt. Hood Community College, Gresham OR

The MHCC Theatre Department has begun to perform Kathryn Schultz Miller's "Sword in the Stone" this week, with busloads of elementary school students from all around the Northwest coming to see the show.

We were fortunate enough to sit in on one of the dress rehearsals to get a glance at the play before the seats were packed full of restless children, and found the production enjoyable.

The script has been brought to life by the students of the Mt. Hood Theatre program, and tailored by the director, Julie Akers, to interact with audience members' imaginations. There are plenty of parts where the characters break the fourth wall and beckon the audience to help them in their quest, which takes them to the skies, moats, and dragon-infested mountains of Arthurian England.

"Magic, special effects & sword fighting."
Sword in the Stone King Arthur play for kids
MHCC theatre students rehearse for “The Sword in the Stone.” Landon Spady, The Advocate

All of these elements would not be nearly as exciting if the actors did not bring their individual talents to the characters of Arthurian legend. All but three of actors are first-year students at Mount Hood, and when asked, Akers expressed excitement at being able to work with such young talent.

She said there were some challenges in working with the script when it was handed to her by the department's head, Mace Archer (who is currently on sabbatical). The script calls for drastic and rapid scene changes that transform the stage from a castle, to the sky, to a field, and to many other difficult-to-depict locations. There are also lots of magic, special effects, and sword fighting in the play, which require a lot more rehearsal time for the actors and tech crew to pin down, in order to put on a smooth performance.

Despite all of these challenges, the cast and crew has risen to the occasion. Akers said that she can't wait to return to direct the upcoming spring production at MHCC, "The Miracle Worker."   The Theatre Department will open ArtReach's Sword in the Stone Saturday, Nov. 16 to MHCC students and the general community.

Alice in Wonderland is a Christmas Play?
Read The Story of Alice in Christmas Land

"Curiouser and curiouser!” 
-- Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

If you thought Wonderland was curious, wait until you visit Christmas Land!  Alice in Wonderland is one of the world’s most famous and beloved classics for children.  Alice in Christmas Land gives the familiar story a musical holiday twist.

The play begins as Lewis Carroll calls for Alice who must be hiding.  While he looks the Storytellers begin the story describing merry old England at Christmas time.  When Alice finally presents herself Lewis sees that there are not 1 but 6 Alices!  He asks 5 of them to sit down and wait their turn to play the part as the play progresses.

Lewis Carroll is determined to take photographs of Alice with his fancy camera.  But Alice is reluctant because she would rather decorate the Christmas tree.  Mr. Carroll agrees and Alice unpacks the ornaments.  To her surprise each ornament represents characters in the stories that Mr. Carroll has told her.  She discovers the Queen of Heart’s heart ornament and Mr. Carroll tells her that this is the most important ornament of all because it represents the spirit of love and kindness which is the center of holiday spirit.

At last Alice poses for a picture but as she does she becomes sleepy and drifts into a dream.  The next thing she knows, a White Rabbit has entered and wakes her up.  But this not the White Rabbit she remembers from the story, this rabbit is dressed in a Santa costume and carries a great sack on his back.  However, the White Rabbit seems to have no understanding of who Santa is and what Christmas is all about.   The Christmas White Rabbit says "Mustn’t be late!” and disappears down his rabbit hole.

Alice follows the rabbit and finds herself in a very unusual place.  Little does she know that she has fallen into Christmas Land where every inhabitant has a very strange idea of Christmas.  She finds a bottle that says "drink me”.  When she drinks from the bottle she grows very small, as small as a cupcake.  A Caterpillar comes along and tells her that tasting the cupcake will make her grow.  One taste of the icing and Alice’s head is in the clouds!

Along come Tweedledum and Tweedledee, two little boys who are flying through the air, lofted up by the propellers on their hats.  Alice asks them to take her flying and together they soar up so high they see the Christmas star!  Alice then asks them to help her become the right size for a little girl again.  They give her a gingerbread man and tell her to eat part of it to grow down.

Next Alice meets the grinning Cheshire Cat who is now a Christmas Cat with green and red stripes.  The Cat has the habit of disappearing and reappearing during their conversation.  The Cat sings a version of "Deck the Halls” that seems crazy to Alice.  The Cat tells her, "We’re all mad here,” and sends her along to the Mad Hatter’s tea party.

But the Mad Hatter refuses to serve tea, claiming his party is really a tree decorating party.  But Alice doesn’t see any tree and has an absurd exchange with the Hatter about his tree that isn’t there.  Dormouse sings a Christmas carol that is just as silly as the Cat’s song.  Alice declares, "No one here knows anything about Christmas at all!”

The Mad Hatter sends Alice along to the garden of the Queen of Hearts where Alice finds decorators throwing away yesterday’s Christmas tree ornaments and putting up new ones.  Everyone seems terrified of the Queen and indeed when the Queen appears everyone runs away.

The Queen asks Alice to play croquet and Alice agrees.  But this is not like any croquet game Alice has played before.  The mallets are flamingos, the arches are people from the audience and the balls are hedgehogs.   After an attempt to play the game, Alice tells the Queen that she cheats.  This prompts the Queen to sing of her own virtues and call for Alice’s head.  Alice calmly informs the Queen that there must be trial first.

At the trial the Queen accuses Alice of sending a Christmas card, claiming the fact establishes Alice’s guilt.  At last, Alice pulls the heart ornament that Mr. Carroll has given her and presents it to the Queen.  Alice tells the Queen that she should represent love and kindness, symbolized by the heart, because that’s what Christmas is all about.  If she did, Alice tells her, "All of your subjects would understand Christmas a great deal more than they do now!”

The Queen is outraged and cries "Off with her head!”  All the Alices appear together and demand that they should like to see the Queen’s head off.   All Alices ask for the audience’s help and together they drive the Queen away.

Soon Alice is sleeping as before and awakens to hear Mr. Carroll and everyone singing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”  As Alice tells Mr. Carroll about her dream, each of the characters appears before her.  The Queen appears, demanding her heart.  Alice says "With this, you can be the very best Queen there ever was.”  When the Queen wishes everyone a Merry Christmas, the crowd shouts, "All hail the Queen of Hearts!”

Mr. Carroll tells Alice to keep each Christmas in her heart for all are precious, prompting everyone to join in singing, "We Wish You a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!”

"If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense.”
-- Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Interview Questions for Kathryn Schultz Miller
Prepared by Morgan Cobb, Florida State University

-What drew you to playwriting?

I had a terrific teacher in High School who believed in me.  He gave me confidence to write and act.  He steered me towards some small publications and a creative writing scholarship to college.  That got me going.

-Which of your plays are you most proud of?

A Thousand Cranes will probably always be up there as my most favored script.  But I am also just as proud of Welcome Home about a Vietnam Vet.  I'm also very proud of many of my short comic plays such as Emperor's New Clothes, Sword in the Stone, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.   Among the large cast plays for kids to perform, I like The Jungle Book and Velveteen Rabbit.

-I noticed several of your plays have actors playing multiple characters was that intentional? If so why?

The first plays I wrote were for touring to schools, so we had to have a small cast of very talented adults with few actors and few props for traveling in a van.  Although that was a necessity I came to see it as an artistic benefit.  Many restrictions caused me to up the artistic stakes, putting imagination above physical stuff like sets and props.  Minimalism became our style.

ArtReach Touring Theatre - Kathryn Schultz Miller, Artistic Director

-What would you say are the main themes of your plays?

My scripts almost always are a plea for peace, understanding, kindness. Young Cherokee, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Red Badge, Yearning to Breathe Free are all about understanding people who are not exactly like you.  Even Sword in the Stone is about learning how to care for others.  I think a desire to encourage empathy is what drives most artists to create.

-A lot of your plays are written to be toured, why do you focus on tourable stories?

I ran a touring theatre, ArtReach Touring Theatre for over 20 years.  That started after college when I started a theatre with friends.  During that experience I realized the benefits of touring and it was something my community needed.  So I (and my husband Barry) took over the touring arm of the company.  I wrote plays for that theatre and its specific needs.  It was quite a while before other theatres began performing my plays.

-How did ArtReach come to be?

The ArtReach Touring Theatre was an actual theatre.  The online company ArtReach Children's Theatre Plays is essentially a publishing company.  I used the name because it was associated with me and I enjoy carrying on the legacy of the work I did with many others during those early years (eighties and nineties).  I must emphasize a touring theatre like ArtReach is a collective endeavor and all the success of that company was created by the many talented dedicated artists I had the privilege to work with.  I keep an archive of the theatre online on the website, dedicated to those who worked with ArtReach.

When I put the plays that I wrote for my theatre online in 2000 I began to hear from teachers all over the country and really the world, who needed large cast plays for their students to perform.  This was a very real need at the time and I decided to start writing plays for kids to perform.  Teachers loved the plays and it took off.  It was quite ironic actually, because I had been writing for casts of 3 or 4 all my life.  Now I was writing for casts of over 30 kids!  Switcheroo!

Kathryn Schultz Miller and Barry Miller, ArtReach Plays.
ArtReach Touring Theatre - Kathryn Schultz Miller, Artistic Director

-Is every play on ArtReach written by you?

Yes.  I get requests from other authors to be included but there are many reasons why I like to represent only my own work.  One practical reason is we offer everything downloadable.  There are certain copyright concerns in that policy and it would be difficult to sort that out when using another author's property.

-What is your playwriting process?

It depends on the play but almost always there's a lot of research which I love.   On The Legend of Mulan for example I had to really immerse myself in Chinese history and culture which was so much fun.  During that research time you kind of go around looking at everything through the eyes of your characters and everything looks different.   Once I'm really in that world I start to write.   

-How long does it take you to write a play?

First I outline and name characters.  That can take 10 minutes or 10 days.  Usually the actual writing of the play isn't much longer than two weeks.  Sometimes a play comes very easily and quickly in a few days as it did for A Thousand Cranes and Welcome Home or even The Nutcracker Prince.  Sometimes I hit a wall and it can take a week or so get out of it.  Beginnings and endings are easy, the stuff in between has to stick to a structure while keeping the audience involved.  Characters have to run the course of their arc.  Themes have to be presented and resolved.  That middle part is an obstacle course for the characters and the playwright.

-All of your work is wonderful, but Thousand Cranes is your most acclaimed. Why do you think that one stands above the rest?

Because of Sadako's remarkable life.  It's her story not mine and it is a wonderful story.  I am forever grateful I have been able to be a part of it in a very small way.  I am also forever grateful to Sadako for her elegant courage and the inspiration she set for others.  But more than that I think the play is not so much about one girl and certainly not about that war or any other war.  I think it is about all of us and what we aspire to be.  We want goodness to be a quality of our humanity which we have not achieved.  We want to achieve it.  That's why I think it's a perfect story for children.  It is important for them to discover this desire for goodness, this higher goal, early, so they can continue to order their lives around it as they live.

-Are your plays original stories/adaptations or are they commissioned?

I have been fortunate to have many commissions. St Louis Rep (MO) commissioned Laura Ingalls Wilder: Voice of the Prairie.   Sutter Street Theatre (CA) commissioned Pinocchio.  PACT and Shakesperience (CT & CA) commissioned Robin Hood.  Florida Rep commissioned Thomas Edison: Fire of Genius.  There are few more.

Small Cast Children's Plays - Blue Horses Professional St. Louis Production Hickory Cricket drums up audience participation!  Pinocchio! One Act Play - Robin Hood
Blue Horses, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Pinocchio, Robin Hood

I wrote more original stories like Blue Horses and The Shining Moment early on.  Unfortunately original titles don't sell as well as known titles.  I think the kids are open to new stories but the directors are unsure about taking a chance. 

-How do you decide what to write about?

I am limited in the plays I can write myself for my own market by what titles are in the public domain.  I'm very careful never to step on any copyright toes.  So I always get requests for Disney adaptations and of course I can't do those.  I wrote my version of Beauty and the Beast long before the movie when it was considered a pretty dark fairy tale and of course it bears no resemblance to what kids expect today.  Luckily, I doubt if I'll ever run out of fairy tales.  I pondered for years about how to do Frankenstein for young audiences and performers and recently wrote Kid Frankenstein which has a passing resemblance to Mary Shelley's classic.  I love history based plays so I have written Amelia Earhart, Annie Oakley, Trail of Tears and others.

-When writing, who do you imagine is performing your plays? Professional theaters, students?

That's an interesting question!  I do both or even more.  When I'm writing, as a character speaks I often imagine the very best actor there is, say Derek Jacobi for Scrooge, on a stage, perfect costumes and lighting.  Then I think I think of an actor like my friends from ArtReach, which would mean a talented young actor in his twenties playing an aged character.  Then I switch to thinking of a talented child playing the part.  So I consider all possibilities and each brings adjustments to the dialogue.  Who knows?  Maybe someday Mr. Jacobi will star in my A Christmas Carol! 

A Christmas Carol, the World’s Favorite Holiday Story
About A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens


I have endeavoured in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me.  May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it.

    Their faithful Friend and Servant, C.D.
    December, 1843

Already the successful author of Sketches by Boz, Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby, The Old Curiosity Shop, Barnaby Rudge and American Notes, Charles Dickens (1812-1870) was one of the best-loved novelists of the time when he wrote this short novel, which was completed in a mere six weeks in tandem with the production of the eleventh episode of the serially published Martin Chuzzlewit.

Originally published on December 17, 1843, the book was rapturously reviewed and became an instant success, the first 6,000 copies of its initial print-run being sold out by Christmas, with 2,000 further copies from the second printing snapped up by the 6th of January. While obviously enormously popular from the outset, it has remained Dickens’ most widely enjoyed work, with hundreds of further reprints and adaptations.

Dickens was completely responsible for the entire production of the book, and he commissioned John Leech (1817-1864) to produce a series of hand colored etchings and wood engravings to illustrate the volume.

The Little Mermaid - A Huge Success!
By Shannan Smith, SCCS Performance Teacher

We had a wonderful show with The Little Mermaid, S.C.C.S.'s all school end of year play.

There were about 50 students involved ranging from grades 2nd - 12th. Missing the show and wanting more performances has remained the major theme among various students. One of the seniors said, "I miss going to practice after school, I'm glad I participated in theatre before I graduated."

After teaching here for 3-1/2 years, I've discovered that students who participate in drama feel extremely satisfied and accomplished.

"Well-developed, young actors bringing stories to life."
The Little Mermaid - Musical from ArtReach for Kids to Perform
Santa Clarita Christian School, CA - The Little Mermaid

Every year our K-6th grade students have the opportunity to participate in bible based drama chapels. Once they are in junior high, they may try out for the all school play, like The Little Mermaid. When in high school, they really hone in their acting craft. The high school students tend to take the major leads in school plays because they are enrolled in an A-G accredited theatre class. While working with them closely, I’m able to educate the students on theatre aspects such as improv, staging, the history of theatre and teaching them about opportunities where they can create their own venues in acting. Drama students are definitely stretched in every area however, this helps the students to think quickly and present themselves well.

I thoroughly enjoy working with students in grades K – 12, engaging with the various levels of talent, watching them grow from excited children to well-developed, young actors bringing stories to life.  Look for next year's play as we will be performing C.S. Lewis's classic, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Those rehearsals will begin after winter break. Thank you for coming out to see this year’s show!

'Amelia Earhart' aims to thrill young audiences
Augustana College in Rehearsal, Rock Island, IL

Augustana's annual children's show, "Amelia Earhart," offers young theatre-goers an exciting story and a lot of history Sept. 23-24.

The play tells the story of the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, who disappeared over the Pacific Ocean in 1937. It uses headlines, remembrances, flashbacks and introspective monologues by Earhart against the backdrop of music, styles and politics of the 1930s and 40s.

"An exciting story and a lot of history."
Amelia Earhart Play for Young Audiences
Rehearsal Picture. "Amelia Earhart" cast members: from left, Peter Alfano, a sophomore from Knoxville, Ill.; Rami Halabi, a senior from Crystal Lake, Ill.;
and Aubrey Lyon, a junior from Mount Vernon, Iowa. (Augustana Photo Bureau/Amanda Moore)

Performances will be at 1:30 p.m. in the Brunner Theatre Center.

"Amelia Earhart" features Augustana students Aubrey Lyon, a junior from Mount Vernon, Iowa; Rami Halabi, a senior from Crystal Lake, Ill.; and Peter Alfano, a sophomore from Knoxville, Ill.

Isabel Dawson, a sophomore from Bloomington, Ill., serves as stage manager. Emma Brutman, a senior from Vernon Hills, Ill., is the designer for set and props.

The children's show once again is directed by Augustana alumna Jackie Wynes McCall '98. McCall earned an MFA in acting from Western Illinois University. After touring and performing all over the Midwest, her travels eventually brought her to The Old Creamery Theatre in the Amana Colonies where she serves as the director of education.

Tickets are $11 for the public, $9 for senior citizens, students, and Augustana faculty/staff, $5 for children ages 12 and under, and free for Augustana students with ID. Tickets can be purchased online, at the door or through the Augustana Ticket Office at 309-794-7306.

A special showing of the play by Kathryn Schultz Miller will be offered at 10 a.m. on Sept. 22 for students in grades 4-8. Schools that make reservations for the show will receive a pre-visit activity packet, enjoy the show and post-show discussion, and leave with follow up activities that can be done in their classroom. For more information about this special performance, email or call Christina Myatt, 309-794-7611.

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