Children's Theatre Class (offered every Fall semester)
Through examination of current theories and techniques, and practical application, this course introduces students to two major branches of children's theatre:
- Performing theatre for young audiences and;
- Leading creative drama activities with children and youths
The majority of students who take this class are education majors with limited theatre experience, mixed with some theatre majors. Students learn the process of putting on a play for young people from selection, research, analysis, and rehearsal through performance. Students also explore the possibilities of creative drama as a format to actively investigate varied content in classrooms and community groups.
The course is designed to prepare students to use acquired theatre skills in their future classrooms and rehearsals. To this end, a number of service-learning components put students in direct contact with local children. Students are introduced to and learn to lead creative drama activities in class with feedback on both the activity and their leadership skills. They then may choose to create a workshop for children incorporating these tools, or to take on a leadership role in producing our public children's community carnival. Hands on work on-stage or back stage for the annual theatre for young audiences production rounds out their applied learning. Later in the semester, students direct, design and/or act in scenes from classic and contemporary children's literature and perform these for an invited audience of local children.
Theatre for Young Audiences - Annual October Production
ESU student majors and non-majors gain experience with the unique design and performance requirements for audiences of young people in our annual production. For daily morning performances, we bus in groups from local Monroe county schools and schools as far away as Philadelphia , Scranton and New Jersey. On the weekends we open our shows to the public. Our productions address compelling educational themes. Many plays are adaptations of classics of children's non-dramatic literature.
- 2008, coming up The Hobbit J.R.R. Tolkein’s 1937 novel in and adaptation by Markland Taylor (school shows Oct. 6-10, public shows Oct. 10-12).
- 2007, School House Rock Live! a musical romp through the elementary school curriculum.
- 2006, Goodbye Marianne - a play about the European Kindertransport that rescued Jewish children from the Natzis.
- 2005 Two Weeks with the Queen by Mary Morris adapted from Australian Morris Gleitzman’s novel - addresses children’s cancer and A.I.D.S.
- 2004 The Phantom Tollbooth, by Susan Nanus, adapted from Norton Juster’s novel.
- 2003 Jack and the Giant adapted by the director Michael Landman from the fairy tale Jack and the Beanstalk.
- 2002 Alice Through the Looking Glass by Seymour Reiter and Lor Crane, a musical version of Lewis Carroll's 1872 classic children's novel.
- 2001 The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Educational and Community Outreach
Elementary and Middle School Post Show Discussions
Often school performances of our theatre for young audiences productions are followed by discussion sessions with the director, cast and crew, giving the children the opportunity to hear answers to their many questions. Groups may also choose to tour of our theatre facilities. We provide informative teacher's guides to increase the educational impact of the field trip.
Under the guidance of faculty, students have offered workshops to local children's groups. Some examples include local schools, the Girl Scouts of America, the Monroe County Public Library, the ESU Rocket's program for at risk children, the Art Learning center, and the Pennsylvania Thespian Conference.
Community carnivals are often held in tandem with our children's theatre production: Halloween at Sleepy Hollow 2001, The Wonderland Tea Party 2002, Jack and Becky's Jamboree, 2003, and two Royal Carnivals 2004 & 2005. We plan to have a Middle Earth Adventure to accompany The Hobbit. Activities included theatre games, carnival games related to themes in the plays, a costume contest, tea parties, face painting, balloon hats, an art corner, prizes, and encounters throughout with the characters from the plays.
High Schools Offerings
We also offer special mid-week daytime high school performances of classic plays aimed at older audiences. Recent shows attended by high school groups include Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night, Spinning into Butter, The Seagull, Tartuffe and A Streetcar Named Desire.