1 September 2016

When mounting a theatrical production, the main concerns usually center around casting logistics and rights to shows. Are there enough roles? Will this show work with the group's personality? How do I get rights and other materials? One elegant solution that also deepens connections to the final product is creating an original piece- perhaps one that the kids even write themselves. While this sounds daunting, it is often the most rewarding process for everyone involved, it will allow you to tailor a show to the group you have, and it avoids all the messy situations with royalties.

A common and successful theme for original works is the Twisted Fairytales format. In a relatively short amount of time, students can create and augment characters and situations that fall in a common frame of reference. This format works well for the devising of a piece as well as presenting the final product because the audience will have at least a global understanding of the characters and setting.

Recently, children grades 2-4 at Camp Jacobson had the opportunity to participate in the mainstages Theater Club led by Theater Director Marco Agnolucci. The club was based on the Twisted Fairytales format, and it utilized a mainstages original script entitled Arielle's Quest for the Lamp of Oz. The theater club used their imagination to "twist" and combine the elements from The Littler Mermaid, Wizard of Oz, and Aladdin in the show. The final summary of the show was:

Arielle and her mermaid friends dream of having legs instead of fins. Their dreams seem impossible until Flounder tells them about a mysterious Genie in the wonderful land of Oz who is capable of granting wishes. Bravely, Arielle journeys through the yellow coral reef to Oz, where she encounters interesting characters along with way. Will Arielle make it to the Genie and achieve her dreams?

The group at Camp Jacobson did a wonderful job with their final show! Here are five steps you can use to create your own Twisted Fairytale script:

  1. Discuss some ideas for story outlines that will interest the group. Gather ideas for the Who, the What, and the Where. Take a vote from the entire group to decide on the characters, setting, and plot.
  2. Pick a section out and appoint volunteers to improvise/act out a scene. Ask all the other members of the group to write down three sentences in total (each on a separate sheet of paper) that might be said by the characters in the improvised scene at any time.
  3. Put all the contributions into the center of the room and shuffle them. Ask the rest of the group to form a semi-circle around the actors and the lines in the center. Ask the rest of the group to pull out 5-10 lines from the center.
  4. The improvisation is fueled solely from the lines on the pieces of paper. These are handed to the actors by the group who are allowed to "freeze" the scene and hand the actors lines when they think they will make appropriate sense. Use this as the basis for devising a script.
  5. Repeat the procedure with other scenes.

Once you have the show written out, you can start to revise with the group and get on your way rehearsing! Pepper in songs from any of the shows and you have something your entire community will enjoy.

You can learn more about bringing mainstages creativity like this to your camp, school, or organization here with our spotlight programming!