Quote of the Day: “Children are smart and caring — they get things,” says playwright Naomi Iizuka in an interview with Theater Critic Rohan Preston in an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “If art has any purpose, it’s surely to help us live our lives in a richer and more emphatic way.”
The Last Firefly by Naomi Iizuka is a brilliant piece of theatrical art that takes you on a hero’s journey from the grass shack of oppression to the clouds of understanding. Boom wonders who his real father is. It is surly not the black-hearted, violent man who’s married to his mother. His name is Ax and he wields it with terror. Ever since he was born, Boom’s mother has told him the story of Thunder, how he came down and created a life. Boom wonders, can that really by my dad? As he flees from Ax’s hateful reign, he seeks a stronger, more powerful father figure who is also compassionate. Along the way, he meets Monkey, who both taunts and guides him on his journey.
As one young audience member, Kirsten, age 9, said, “It’s one continuous storm.” She’s not a big fan of storms, but she loves theater. She snuggled close to her mom Beth for much of the play. We also brought her younger sister Emily, age 6. The Children’s Theatre Company recommends this play for children age 8, or third grade, and older. Emily said it wasn’t too bad, “As long as you know what to expect.” Emily also snuggled close to her mom and sat on her lap for the big, stormy scenes, but she gave me a thumbs up when the play ended. Beth said that she talked about the play with Emily before she brought her, giving her some idea of what she would experience. She’s been to several plays, so she understands how it works. Beth said, “It depends on the kid,” when deciding if they can handle the content: violent step-father and loud storms.
Truly, this is a brilliant production. I was amazed by so many elements in staging and design. It is visually stunning. I wish I could see it again to see even more details. One character is Lightning. Her costume lights up, and when she sends out her sparks, the entire stage lights up with lightning bolts along the side. The way they portrayed the river was fantastic. They used two lengths of cloth with sticks wrapped around the ends for the actors to hang onto and manipulate. It was something like the double jump ropes for “Double Dutch,” only cloth, that they made wave and cover Boom and Monkey as they fought for space on the large rocks. Their rhythmic stomp on the rocks was also a bit of fun and comic relief. And, I can only begin to describe how they portrayed the tree. It’s part actor, part large cloth and framework.
I applaud the Children’s Theatre Company for producing new work and rising to the challenge of presenting stories that examine some of the more difficult aspects of life. The Last Firefly is mystical, psychological, and stormy. It shows us what happens when we face our fears and begin the journey.
You can see The Last Firefly directed by Peter C. Brosius at the Children’s Theatre in Minneapolis through November 13, 2016. Please visit their website or call their box office, 612-874-0400, for tickets and showtimes.
Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt: Are you afraid of storms? What are your biggest fears, and what do you do to face them and journey on?