During the month of April, I participate in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. That is 26 posts in one month, for each letter of the alphabet, time off for good behavior on Sundays. Over 1800 bloggers are participating this year. Last I checked, I was #858. This year, Millie and Willie Cottonpoly, my sock puppet creations, are here to tell you their story and share reviews, ideas, and inspiration with you. They’re also helping to teach theatre classes for kids in the Brainerd area, and continue to view and review theatre productions and some books. This retired couple doesn’t just sit around watching reruns on MeTv. (Although, Willie does like to put up his feet whenever Petticoat Junction comes on. It’s that sound of the train whistle. Millie makes no apologies for watching the Lassie marathon while holding her dog Tillie on her lap.)
R is for Romeo and Juliet, playing now at the Park Square Theatre in St. Paul, MN. I rode along with the 9th grade class on their field trip to the theatre in the big city. Except for one screamer on the bus, we had a great day. The kids seemed to enjoy the show. They responded with laughter, oohs, ahhs, nervous shuffling, and a little bit of uncomfortable giggling at the sexy scenes. I didn’t see anyone wipe away tears, but I felt anger and fear during a few scenes. They are performing Romeo and Juliet in the new Andy Boss Thrust Stage at Park Square, which is downstairs from the main theatre. With seating for about 200 on three sides of the stage, the English teachers told us, that is how people in Shakespeare’s time would have experienced the play. You feel like you’re right in the action, even more so when the actors come up the aisles and are in the audience. The more intimate setting also gives the play more intensity. What a wonderful first experience for some of the students. I know only a few have been to live theatre performances, and even fewer still to a professional theatre. I applaud the English teachers for making the extra effort to bring their classes to this performance. It is a way to make those stories come alive and spark imagination in their students. I love being a field trip mom!
I visited with Connie the marketing director for Park Square. I asked if it was part of the mission of Park Square to provide performances/theatre experience for students. She said, “Yes, for the past 20 years, Park Square has done productions with students in mind.” They do some of the classics like Diary of Anne Frank, To Kill a Mockingbird, Shakespeare plays, and contemporary plays as well. This year, they included performances of The Color Purple. Now, that would be an incredible performance to experience your first time at a theatre, or a musical. Thank you, Park Square, for opening your doors to students. I know they can be both a harder, and more honest, audience, but you never know how you might have changed someone’s life, or the way they think about the world.
Millie and Willie discussed it on the bus ride home.
Millie: So, Willie, what were some of your favorite parts about the play?
Willie: The sword fights, Millie. They were so exciting. I felt my heart rate go up a little.
Millie: The costumes were lovely, flowing garments for the ladies, coats and interesting head gear for the men.
Willie: The actors were all so polished. I felt like they were really those people, the fiery Tibult, the bawdy Mercutio, the wise Friar, the angry and controlling father.
Millie: Juliet and her romantic ideas of love.
Willie: Romeo and his foolish mistakes.
Millie: A pair of star-crossed lovers.
Willie: A family feud that that goes on and on, even though no one remembers how it started, and no one has the courage to end.
Millie: Did the families ever learn?
Willie: Does the world ever stop feuding?
Millie: I think it’s time to sing the Peace Train song, Willie.
Willie: That’s my second favorite song.
(Lillie and Billie, who were also attending the play, listened to the discussion and song.)
Lillie: Ooh, Willie. That’s a great train song. I’d like to learn to play it and have a whole group of different people sing it together.
Billie: I’d even do that one with you, Lillie, if I can play the drums.
Millie: Peace starts at home.
Lillie and Billie: Amen, sista.
Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt: Who’s riding your Peace Train? What do you think of the story of Romeo and Juliet?
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I love the Theater in the Round experience. We saw Man of La Mancha that way several years ago, and it was epic.
I do, too. It’s a more intimate experience.
Mary, I love being a field trip mom too! In fact, I’m going to be helping at a junior class retreat at Pelican Lake this week upcoming and I can’t wait! This is my favorite kind of “helping.” Your puppet people make it so fun to step into an experience. And I loved your thank you to the play house. It’s so true. Students can be boisterous and appear unappreciative, but you never know what is going to stir in their soul. It could be life-changing. In fact, it most likely will be. Beautiful!
Thank you, Roxane. Hugs between happy field trip moms!
The Color Purple would be a great play for the kids to see.
Was the screamer a kid or one of the adults trapped on a bus full of kids?
One of the kids. She needed attention.
I’ve discovered a real love of watching Shakespeare being performed. It’s so much better than reading the plays like we did in high school! He’s definitely stood the test of time.
Yes, Nadine. The actors make it come alive.
I wonder how Shakespeare would like seeing his play in the round. It’s such intimate theater that the audience almost becomes a part of the play.
I think he’d like it!
love the Millie-Willie conversations 😀 though I never watched/read the play… (oops, did I just admit that ??? 🙂 )
Wow. I thought everyone read that one in school!
Romeo and Juliet is a classic that will never die!
For many years, I taught it to grade 10 learners as one of the prescribed drama setbooks.
It’s required reading here, too, Michelle. Seems to still be popular.