Monday, January 28, 2008

More Love for Heart

The Neverending Story, despite the promise of its name, closed yesterday. We had great fun with the production - the reviews were all positive, the audiences large and appreciative, and we had the opportunity to work with the rock band Heart in the process.

And that collaboration is the gift that keeps on giving. Take a look at this gorgeous Epiphone guitar, signed by Ann and Nancy Wilson and their longtime collaborator, Sue Ennis.

The guitar will be part of an auction at SCT’s Backstage 2008 to help support SCT’s mainstage programming and education outreach. And huge thanks, again, to Ann, Nancy and Sue for their support and cooperation.

You know you want this guitar, so join us for an incredible evening celebrating children’s theatre. Backstage 2008 is Monday April 28th, 2008, and tickets start at $250. For reservations or for more information, contact Brooke O’Neal at or SCT’s Development Department at (206) 443-0807.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Activity: Storytelling Variations

Theatre is, at its most basic, a storytelling art. Its strength is its versatility, the way it can, in the hands of a talented director and cast, bring so many forces to bear on the story - music, movement, voices, shifts in time, shifts in space.

It is interesting to note the way our audiences evolve and become more sophisticated "readers" of theatre - our productions for younger audiences tend to be more linear, to follow a straightforward arc, and as the recommended age moves upward, the narratives become less linear, the transitions more allusive. Our older audiences have a better understanding of story structure, giving our artists the freedom to tweak that structure in service to the story.

Below are three storytelling exercises suitable for kids 8 or 9 and up that develop listening skils and imagination, and that encourage participants to become more familiar with story structure. And, really, they are fun and suitable for adults as well.

Story Orchestra

Choose one participant to be the story conductor, and arrange other participants in a line shoulder-to-shoulder. The conductor chooses a story the group knows (maybe The Neverending Story) or a general prompt (perhaps a fantastic journey). When the conductor points at an individual participant, he or she tells a part of the story and when the conductor stops pointing, that participant stops. The next participant who is pointed at must pick up the story where the previous person left off. The conductor should pick participants at random and point at them for a variety of different lengths of time.

7 Sentence Story

Arrange all of the participants in a circle. One at a time, they share the prompt (list below) and then add onto the story so that it all logically connects.

Once upon a time...
Until one day...
And because of that...
And because of that...
And because of that...
Until finally...
And ever since then...

Variation: Assign a leader to read off each prompt, and then participants physically express what happens next in the story using only movement. The leader says, "Once upon a time..." and the particiapnts create a frozen picture, rather than saying it loud, or what happened "once upon a time."

Beaded Story

This activity builds on the previous two; it demands a basic knowledge of story structure. If you try these activities with children, we recommend you start with one of the above before trying the Beaded Story.

One participant, let's call him/her A, steps forward and shares the middle sentence of a story. (Note: Advise everyone to keep sentences short, as they will be repeated.) The next participant, B, stands to the right of A and adds the sentence that comes after the middle sentence in the story. Then A and B share what they have so far. The next participant, C, stands to the left of A and adds a sentence describing what happened before the middle sentence of the story. After each participant adds a sentence, repeat what sentences you have so far, from left to right. Then have another participant, D, stand on the right of B and add a sentence that comes after B's. Continue adding participants to alternating sides, adding sentences that come before or after what had already been told, repeating everything you have so far each time, from left to right. Play until the end of the story is reached or all participants have been added.

All sentences should be logically reflect what has happened before or after in the story. All the before action should be on the left side of the first participant and all the after action should be to the right side of the first participant.

Give them a try! And share the results - we'll publish the best of any stories sent to our blog moderator on Behind the Curtain.

Monday, January 7, 2008


I've always found it interesting from what a wide range of sources theatre artists draw their inspiration. There might be a painting, a scrap of song, a particular vista or a childhood memory at the root of any production.

SCT Artistic Associate Rita Giomi has just recently started rehearsals for her adaptation of Hamlet for five actors, and shared with Behind the Curtain one of the seeds of inspiration for her adaptation, this wonderfully evocative quote:

I am trying to recall attention from the things an intellectual adult notices to the things a child or a peasant notices - night, ghosts, a castle lobby where a man can walk four hours together, a willow-fringed brook and a sad lady drowned, a graveyard and a terrible cliff above the sea, and amidst all these a pale man in black clothes with his stockings coming down, a dishevelled man whose words make us at once think of loneliness and doubt and dread, of waste and dust and emptiness and from whose hands to our own, we feel the richness of heaven and earth and the comfort of human affection slipping away.

- C.S. Lewis

One can almost feel themselves on the ramparts of a castle in Denmark, wrapped in mists and accosted by the ghost of a dead king. It strikes just the right tone for the Bard's timeless tale of treachery and revenge.

Hamlet opens January 25th and runs through February 24th at Seattle Children's Theatre.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

We Heart the New Year

SCT had the good fortune to collaborate with Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart on this season's production of The Neverending Story. The Wilsons, along with their long-time collaborator Sue Ennis, wrote pieces of background music and the new, original theme song "Don't You Fall."

Fans of Heart have asked for an opportunity to hear the song, and Behind the Curtain is happy to oblige, throwing in images from the production for good measure.

Many, many thanks to Ann and Nancy Wilson for the opportunity to work together on this exciting project.

The Neverending Story closes January 27.