WCT stages stories by student authors

Sometimes a daydream is more than just a

Eric Mulholland is one of the four actors who bring “Stories ALIVE!” to the stage at WCT.

Sometimes a daydream is more than just a

daydream.

Students in some South Whidbey schools found out that what they imagined in their very own heads could be translated later to the stage and performed right before their eyes.

That’s the idea behind “Stories ALIVE!” a project of Whidbey Children’s Theater that encourages kids to read and write.

The first stories submitted to the project will make their way to the Martha Murphy Mainstage at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 12 and Sunday, April 13.

Teachers from South Whidbey Intermediate and Primary schools, Whidbey Island Academy and Island Christian Academy submitted stories which were reviewed by the WCT staff.

Twelve stories were selected for performance, including “The Boy and the Moon,” “On a Boat in a Storm,” “The Dude,” “The Two Fairies,” and “The Lizard That Got Stung Twice” from South Whidbey Primary School; “My Worst Day of Summer,” “Wendy and the Apple Tree,” “My Hero” and “Water Cycle Story,” from the Intermediate School; “Animal Friends,” from Island Christian Academy; and “Disneyland,” and “The Pharaoh and His Phone,” from the students at Whidbey Island Academy.

The “Stories ALIVE!” project marks a new approach for Whidbey Children’s Theater as the company continues to move toward its goals by engaging and educating youth using the tools of theater.

At the South Whidbey Intermediate school in March, “Stories ALIVE!” actors performed seven selected stories from Michelle Zisette’s fifth-grade class and Susan Milan’s kindergarten/first-grade class.

Stories about friendship, the journey of a water molecule and a funny story called “The Dude” by a first-grade author were among those chosen.

“We loved your performance of our kids’ stories,” Milan told the project later. “I had tears in my eyes watching you bring the ‘dude’ to life!”

Zisette said the experience was a memorable one for her students, especially for those students who never thought they would be able to write a play.

“The kids got to see their writing in a whole different way. They could see their work come off the page,” Zisette said.

“It was really a fun experience. The kids were proud of each other and it became a bonding experience for them.”

Eric Mulholland, WCT’s executive director, said the stories are selected based on plot clarity and whether or not the story lends itself to dramatization.

“Casts of thousands are impossible,” Mulholland said.

“But doubling up for multiple characters is not unheard of,” he added. “I look at the overall show to make sure there is a good representation of female and male authors; that different grades and ages are represented.”

Using four local adult actors, the show is put together in the traditions of storytelling and improvisation.

The actors receive the stories a week before the show, then read and memorize them and meet for a one- or two-hour rehearsal to roughly put the show together. They decide how they’ll play the characters and what the character might generally say to help tell the child’s story and move it forward.

“Stories ALIVE!” adheres to the very roots of theater in its imaginative use of space, its improvisatory acting and in its simplicity of costumes and props.

The show is accompanied by a piano player to highlight the mood of the piece and to help facilitate the suspension of disbelief for the audience. The music, said Mulholland, helps the audience imagine the characters are indeed on a spaceship heading for the moon or sneaking through a spooky forest.

“Stories ALIVE!” is action, drama, comedy and poetry all wrapped up in an entertaining hour of original live theater done by consummate actors.

It celebrates the writing efforts of all students, some of whom may have never imagined the characters they’ve dreamed up inside their heads could come to life on the stage.

“Our hope is to bring this program into the schools across Whidbey Island,” Mulholland said. “We hope to inspire young people to read more and write creative stories.”

Tickets cost $7 for adults and $5 for seniors and youth.

Call WCT at 221-2282 or visit www.WCTonline.com for info.

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