Don’t forget to bring your imagination to ‘Story Theatre’

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 14, 2013

The music of the Beatles will be paired with fables from the Grimm Brothers and Aesop in Piedmont Players Theatre’s “Story Theatre.”
“There’s a lot of music in the show used for traveling,” said resident director Reid Leonard. “One of the songs historically used for the Golden Goose’s traveling song is ‘Here Comes the Sun,’ so one of the thoughts I had while working on the show is to use Beatles songs when they refer to music.
“We’re using a lot of riffs, so you won’t even recognize some of the songs.”
The 60s music fits in well with the show’s main prop, an original Volkswagen van that the theatre group borrowed from a local couple.
“The children will actually come riding in on an old VW van,” Leonard said. “That’s where they’ll get all of the props and costume pieces they’ll use during the show.”
The cast of 18 students started performing four shows a day for second and third-graders in the Rowan-Salisbury School System on Tuesday. They’ll continue to do so through Friday.
Leonard said the play will introduce the children to live theatre while tapping into their imaginations.
“They are used to movies with CGI (computer-generated imagery) and all the special effects,” he said. “For an actor to stand on stage and say ‘Here’s a cup’ and there is no cup they have to use their imagination to make it work.”
Leonard said teenagers who come to see the play when it opens to the public will enjoy the techniques used to tell stories throughout the show.
“It’s fascinating to see how the story evolves,” he said.
The type of acting used in “Story Theatre” was developed by Viola Spolin, a Chicago woman who wrote “Improvisation for the Theater.”
“Her son, a guy named Paul Sills, got a group of actors together and took her improvs and started applying them to stories,” Leonard said. “It ended up touring the country and playing on Broadway before the improv group eventually became ‘Saturday Night Live.’”
Leonard said some audience members may be surprised to find out Grimms fairy tales are “actually grim.”
“They doesn’t necessarily have happy endings, neither do Aesop’s,” he said. “But the show starts dark and moves toward lightness.”