Remember when your parents read you bedtime stories featuring dashing heroes, magic spells and evil villains?
Eight multitalented MU theater students will perform 12 folk and fairy tale stories in the all-ages production, “The Blue Light and Other Stories.”
“One of the things that’s nice about this show is that as much as this is a fun thing to do, I’m also teaching students how to do story theater,” says Cat Gleason, the show’s director and a third-year assistant teaching professor of theater at MU.
“Story theater” is a type of theater this group of students has been exposed to for the first time, and it requires a different type of preparation. Although the production is scripted, Gleason says improvisation played a large part in preparing for the production; the group played many improvisational games during rehearsal.
Sophomore Courtney Wagner says participating in these improv games was very strange at first.
“I have never done anything like that before,” Wagner says. “But there’s definitely a method to the madness. Each of those games builds a certain core value as far as story theater goes. Every single one of them had a purpose, and they were really fun and definitely got me out of my comfort zone.”
This production also incorporates the use of shadow puppets, another technique unfamiliar to the students in the beginning.
“It’s something that seems really simple but requires a lot of work,” Wagner says. “You have to know what you’re doing, and you’re constantly looking at yourself in the shadow and asking ‘What is the audience seeing? Is it reading well, and is it aiding the story?’”
Live music is another feature the audience will experience.
“Our show uses a lot of different instruments, a lot of cool African instruments,” junior Alex Givens says. “A lot of drums and percussion, for sure, and it’s all live. I think it’s pretty cool.”
Gleason believes folk and fairy tale stories continue to resonate with audiences today, as they are embedded in our bones, she says.
“Disney’s been drawing on Grimm’s (fairy tales) forever and ever,” Gleason says. “So we as Americans can relate to these kinds of stories because we hear them when we are kids and tell them to our own children. I think the reason (our production) will work for college audiences is that we are unrestrained (and) silly. We gave ourselves permission to be as dorky as we want to be so we are inviting the audience to have fun.”
“The Blue Light and Other Stories” debuted Thursday at the Corner Playhouse and will also be shown on both Wednesday and Thursday evenings. The two shows will start at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $8 for students and can be bought at the MU Theatre Box Office at the Rhynsburger Theatre or online at theatremissouri.tix.com.