Let us concentrate for a moment on a vital part of youth theatre: the young people. Millions of youngsters attend plays every season, and for some the experience is not particularly memorable or entertaining. The fault may lie with the production - but often the fault lies in the fact that these youngsters have not been properly briefed on appropriate theatre manners. Going to the theatre is not a casual event such as flipping on the TV set, attending a movie or a sports event. Going to the theatre is a SPECIAL OCCASION, and should be attended as such. In presenting theatre manners to young people we take the liberty of putting the do’s and don’ts in verse, and hope that concerned adults will find this a more palatable way of introducing these concepts to youngsters.
By PEGGY SIMON TRAKTMAN
The theatre is no place for lunch, But if you like something you clap
Who can hear when you go “crunch?” Actors like to hear applause.
We may wear our nicest clothes If there is cause for this applause.
When we go to theatre shows. If a scene is bright and sunny,
Do not talk to one another And you think something is funny
(That means friends or even mother) Laugh- performers love this laughter
Keep your hands upon your lap You really will enjoy the play.
The Brothers Grimm
We can imagine the sense of revelation and delight fairy tales must have offered to the generations of folk who originally heard them told aloud at firesides. But these stories fell into disrepute with the educated classes, ashamed of reminders of what they imagined to be a barbaric past. It was Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm who brought these stories into print, revealing their beauty and strength.
Jacob and Wilhelm were born in 1785 and 1786 in the small German principality of Hesse-Cassel, and spent their later childhood in Steinau, a small town dotted with medieval monuments. Theirs was a tightly knit family, and the two brothers, who were unusually close, developed a deep love of tradition. As adults, they collected the fairy tales mostly from friends and neighbors.
Although the Grimm brothers did not, technically speaking, write any of the tales, they altered them to make them more suitable for you readers. Their alterations were prompted, in part, by Wilhelm’s puritanical leanings. But commercial concerns also played a role. The children’s market for fairy tales, fueled by a growing recognition that children had their own
unique interests, was growing tremendously, and publishers were more willing to invest money in books that parents found acceptable. The first volume of these stories was published by Christmas, 1812, and the second appeared in 1814. Jacob’s belief was that the fairy tale “is a poetry which belongs to the childhood of the race – and therefore children take to it so readily.”
Child Psychologist Bruno Bettelheim
In this day of heightened sensitivity to the effects of culture (both classical and popular) on the psychological development of young people, the fairy tale has come under scrutiny by many concerned educators, parents, and psychologists. Many feel that fairy tales enforce negative stereotypes and establish unrealistic expectations in children. Others voice concern over the violence exhibited in many stories. Still others find fairy tales relatively harmless while questioning their relevance to today’s youth. One current work by a noted psychologist attempts to rewrite and update fairy tales to embrace contemporary social situations, perceptions and concepts.
Perhaps the most important and insightful work on the subject is “The Uses of Enchantment” by psychoanalyst Bruno Bettelheim. Bettelheim maintains that, like all lasting legends and folklore, fairy tales contain universal symbols of human experience and, for children, a safe arena for dealing with the complexities of their own needs. He recognizes that the content of fairy tales has significance to all persons, regardless of age, but points out that children are more open in their responses than are adults.
From Bruno Bettelheim’s award-winning book:
The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales
Cinderella, as we know it, is experienced as a story about the agonies and hopes that form the essential content of sibling rivalry, and about the degraded heroine winning out over her siblings who abused her. Long before Perrault gave Cinderella the form in which it is now widely known, "having to live among the ashes" was a symbol of being debased in comparison to one's siblings. There are many examples throughout literature of how being forced to dwell among the ashes was a symbol not just of degradation, but also of sibling rivalry, and of the sibling who finally surpasses the brother or brothers who have debased him.
No other fairy tale renders so well as the Cinderella stories the inner experiences of the young child in the throes of sibling rivalry, when he feels hopelessly outclassed by his brothers and sisters. Cinderella is pushed down and degraded by her stepsisters; her interests are sacrificed to theirs by her stepmother; she is expected to do the dirtiest work and although she performs it well, she receives no credit. When a story corresponds to how the child feels deep down- as no realistic narrative is likely to do - it attains an emotional quality of "truth" for the child. The events of Cinderella offer him vivid images that give body to his overwhelming emotions; so these episodes seem more convincing to him than his life experiences. That is why he believes in the inherent truth of Cinderella, and then he also comes to believe in her eventual deliverance and victory.
Despite the name "sibling rivalry," this miserable passion has only incidentally to do with a child's actual brothers and sisters. The real source of it is the child's feelings about his parents. When a child's older brother or sister is more competent than he, this arouses only temporary feelings of jealousy. However, fearing that in comparison to them he cannot win his parents' love and esteem is what inflames sibling rivalry. Cinderella can help parents accept that as an inescapable step in their child's development toward true maturity, they must seem for a time to have turned into "bad parents." Thus Cinderella offers parents much-needed comfort, for it can teach them why and for what good purposes they are seen temporarily in a bad light by their child. The child learns from Cinderella that to gain his kingdom he must be ready to undergo a "Cinderella" existence for a time, not just in regard to the hardships this entails, (parent's expectations) but also in regard to the difficult tasks he must master on his own initiative.
Cinderella is a fairy tale which makes nearly as strong an appeal to boys as to girls, since children of both sexes suffer equally from sibling rivalry, and have the same desire to be rescued from their lowly position and surpass those who seem superior to them. Cinderella tells about the agonies of sibling rivalry, of wishes coming true, of the humble being elevated, of true merit being recognized even when hidden under rags, of virtue rewarded and evil punished. These are some of the great attractions of this fairy tale.
Another aspect which holds large appeal for the child is the vileness of the stepmother and stepsisters. Whatever the shortcomings of a child may be in his own eyes, these pale into insignificance when compared to the stepsisters' and stepmother's falsehood and nastiness. Further, what the stepsisters do to Cinderella justifies whatever nasty thoughts one may have about one's siblings. So the child, on hearing her story, realizes he need not feel guilty about his angry thoughts.
One of the greatest merits of Cinderella is that, irrespective of the magic help Cinderella receives, the child understands that essentially it is through her own efforts, and because of the person she is, that Cinderella is able to transcend magnificently her degraded state, despite what appear as insurmountable obstacles. It gives the child confidence that the same will be true for him.
Overtly the story helps the child to accept sibling rivalry as a rather common fact of life and promises that he need not fear being destroyed by it. On the contrary, if these siblings were not so nasty to him, he could never triumph to the same degree at the end. Further, it tells the child that if he was once considered dirty and uncouth, this was a temporary stage with no adverse consequences for the future. There are also obvious moral lessons; that surface appearances tell nothing about the inner worth of a person; that if one is true to oneself, one wins out over those who pretend to be what they are not; and that virtue will be rewarded, evil punished.
Openly stated, are the lessons that to develop one's personality to the fullest, one must be able to do hard work and be able to separate good from evil. Cinderella sets forth the steps in personality development required to reach self-fulfillment, and presents them in fairy-tale fashion so that every person can understand what is required of him to become a full human being. Even out of lowly matter like ashes, things of great value can be gained, if one knows how to do it.
Dr. Sheldon Cashdan
What accounts for the enduring charm of fairy tales? Why are generations of children drawn to stories such as Hansel and Gretel, Snow White, and Cinderella? In The Witch Must Die: How Fairy Tales Shape Our Lives, Dr. Cashdan explores how fairy tales help children deal with psychological conflicts by projecting their own internal struggles between good and evil onto the battles enacted by the characters in the stories. Rumpelstiltskin, Pinocchio and Rapunzel vividly dramatize lust, envy, avarice and sloth on a safe stage, allowing children to confront their own "deadly sins."
“Fairy tales are ultimately a celebration of life. Both enchanting and empowering, they are as timely today as they were hundreds of years ago. The underlying dynamic—the age-old struggle between good and evil—resonates between the lines of Snow White, Hansel and Gretel and The Emperor’s New Clothes, as it will in the as yet unwritten stories of the twenty-first century. For this reason, the witch will continue to be a major presence in fairy tales, sensitizing us to forces within ourselves that pose a challenge to our sense of who we are. Her destruction is not an act of vengeance, nor even cruelty. It merely reminds us that sinful tendencies are a part of everyday existence, and that we must do battle with them if we wish to have a fairy-tale ending.”
From Sheldon Cashdan’s highly-praised best-seller:
The Witch Must Die: How Fairy Tales Shape Our Lives
Children nowadays tend to be more familiar with the Perrault version, not only because it has been reproduced countless times in storybooks, but because it formed the inspiration for Walt Disney’s full-length feature film. The pumpkin-coach and glass slipper—invented by Perrault—have become cultural icons, largely owing to the films popularity. The Grimm version, however, titled Aschenputtel, is infinitely richer and delves into matters the Perrault version barely touches upon.
The Grimm’s Cinderella takes as its point of departure a dying mother’s promise to keep watch over her daughter. Just before the mother succumbs, she admonishes the girl to be good and assures her that she will look after her from heaven. After the mother dies, the father soon remarries. A graveside scene reiterates the deep immutable bond that exists between mother and child. Sitting beneath the hazel tree, watered by her many tears, the child longs for the love she once knew, for the mother who nurtured her and protected her.
Both Perrault’s Cinderella and the Disney film omit the mother’s deathbed vow and the graveside scene and take as a starting point a motherless Cinderella. This conveniently does away with the pain of separation brought about by the mother’s death. But it also deletes an important psychological dimension from the story: the child’s experience of loss and desire to reclaim the missing mother. The psychological import of Cinderella thus is diminished in favor of an opening sequence that purportedly is less disturbing.
In the Grimm version, envy emerges as a conspicuous dynamic, surfacing in both the stepmother’s envy of Cinderella’s initial position in the family and in Cinderella’s envy of the privileges usurped by her sisters. The stepmother’s envious nature emerges full blown later in the story. Here is a woman so determined to become queen-mother that she will stop at nothing to make sure one of her daughters marries the prince. Her ambition is so great, her envy of Cinderella so compelling that she is willing to mutilate her daughters to make sure one of them ascends the throne. Her total disregard for her own flesh and blood marks her as one of the most wicked women in fairy tales, the quintessential bad mother. If the child’s predicament is to be successfully resolved—if the story is to have a happy ending—envy must addressed and destroyed or, at the very least, condemned. If allowed to go unchecked, envy can have serious consequences.
It is the stepsisters who are punished at the end of the Grimm brother’s tale, rather than the stepmother who escapes unharmed. The question is, why? Perhaps blinding the daughters is the story’s way of punishing her. After all, they are her flesh and blood. But there may be other reasons the stepmother’s life is spared. For one, she never actually tried to kill Cinderella, even though the ill treatment she meted out came close to destroying the young girl’s spirit. Furthermore, the stepmother is a real mother. Unlike witches who reside in dark corners of the forest and are childless, the stepmother in Cinderella has children of her own. The violent death of a bona fide mother—though she has all the characteristics of a witch—hits too close to home. This helps explain why the stepsisters are spared death. Though they are self-absorbed and mean-spirited, they nevertheless are real children, born of a real mother. In fairy tales, witches and ogres die, not children.
But someone in the story has to pay the piper, and it is the sisters. The price they pay, while draconian, is nevertheless consistent with the sin in the story. Envy is often dubbed “the green-eyed monster,” and the word itself derives from the Latin videre, to see. By being deprived of their ability to see, the stepsisters are forever deprived of their ability to envy.
BEFORE THE PLAY:
Read Cinderella to your students or watch a movie version of the story. Explain to them that there are countless adaptations of this story from various cultures all over the world and the version they will see will not be exactly like the one they have read or seen on film.
TH.C.1.1.2 (PreK-2) The student understands how we learn about ourselves, our relationships and our environment through forms of theater (e.g., film, television, plays, and electronic media)
TH.E.1.2.2 (3-5) The student understands the artistic characteristics of various media and the advantages and disadvantages of telling stories through those artistic media.
LAFS.2.RL.3.9:Compare and contrast two or more versions of the same story (e.g., Cinerdella stories) by different authors or from different cultures.
LAFS.3.RL.1.2: Recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message, lesson, or moral and explain how it is conveyed through key details in the text.
Ask your students to discuss the difference between television and live theatre. It is important that they know about “theatre etiquette,” or manners. Refer to the poem “Matinee Manners” listed above.
TH.1.S.1.1: Exhibit appropriate audience etiquette and response.
Have the students learn the following vocabulary words and listen for them during the play. See how many words they can recall and how the characters used them in the context of the play.
acquainted ancient anticipation appreciation bureau caribou
LAFS.1.RF.3.3: Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.
LA.FS.1.RF.4.4 Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension..
4. Every classic fairy tale lets the child see that all triumphs (the overcoming of poverty) come not merely
by magic but from the hero's (thus the child's) accomplishment of a seemingly impossible task. Talk to your class about their secret dreams and enchanted worlds, for that is where they will begin to discover themselves and ultimately set the goals that they will strive for.
LAFS.1.SL.1.3: Ask and answer questions about what a speaker says in order to gather additional information or clarify something that is not understood.
AFTER THE PLAY: Part I
Ask your students to write letters, or draw pictures, to send to the cast of Cinderella. What did they like about the play? Who was their favorite character? What did they learn from the story?
LAFS.3.W.1.2: Write informative/explanatory texts in which they name a topic, supply some facts about the topic, and provide some sense of closure.
LAFS.3.W.1.3: Write narratives in which they recount two or more appropriately sequenced events, include some details regarding what happened, use temporal words to signal event order, and provide some sense of closure.
LAFS.1.W.1.1: Write opinion pieces in which they introduce the topic or name the book they are writing about, state an opinion, supply a reason for the opinion, and provide some sense of closure.
Relevant Themes: 1. Sibling rivalry
The humble being elevated
Refer to the themes listed above. Ask the following questions to relate the themes to everyday life:
1. Cinderella did not live in a traditional family. Sibling rivalry is a universal problem in all households. Family compositions can be explored as well as the interaction of family members.
a. Have you ever been jealous of a brother or sister?
b. Are there things that your brother or sister can do better than you? What can you do better than them?
c. Do you ever argue about silly things to get your parents attention?
d. Many problems within the family unit are related to sharing chores, being a part of a group, or being left out. How can you overcome these problems.
*Have your students write a brief story about an argument between two fictional siblings. Read the stories to the class and find creative ways to resolve the conflicts.
LAFS.2.Rl.1.2: Identify the main topic of a multiparagraph text as well as the focus of specific paragraphs within the text.
2. The story of Cinderella recognizes true merit even when hidden beneath rags and dirt.
Humility is a quality that seems to be quickly disappearing in our world of celebrity “bling” and endless self-promotion. Discuss with your students the concept of humility and other qualities that make up a good citizen. Why are these qualities important?
Discuss with your students other examples of a humble or persecuted person being elevated to greatness? (world leaders, religious, civil rights, etc.)
In Cinderella, countries all over the world share the same fondness for this lonely, unloved person. Help your students to realize that although there are differences among all peoples, there are just as many similarities among them.
LAFS.3.RL.1.3: Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.
SS.1.W.1.1: Identify ways citizens can make a positive contribution in their community.
SS.3.C.2.1: Identify group and individual actions of citizens that demonstrate civility, cooperation, volunteerism, and other civic virtues.
There are many moral lessons in Cinderella that are common in every translation.
Hard work always pays off in the end.
Outer appearance is nothing without inner worth.
Dreams really can come true.
One overriding theme that is often missed is that of forgiveness. Why is there such great virtue in forgiving someone that has not been kind to you? When Cinderella becomes engaged to the Prince, she can easily have her stepmother and stepsisters thrown into the dungeons. Instead, she forgives them and invites them to live at the royal palace.
* Have your class sit in a circle and talk about someone they are angry or upset with. Discuss the concepts of forgiveness and apologizing. Learning to forgive in small circles moves us one step closer to world-wide peace and harmony.
LAFS.3.RL.1.1: Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.
LAFS.3.W.1.2: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
The Art of Florida Assessments
Contributed by Patricia Linder
Visual and Performing Arts Field Trips provide an excellent source of support for the development of skills necessary for success on the Florida Assessments. We invite you to use these instructional strategies to enhance preparation through your theatre field trip.
Theatre Activities Cognitive Level 1 Read the story (or play) your field trip performance is based on.
Name the main character.
List all the characters.
Identify the setting.
List the story events in the order they happened.
Describe a character (or setting).
Explain the problem (or conflict) in the story.
Explain how the actors used stage props to tell the story (or develop characterization).
Discuss how the blocking, or positioning of the actors on stage affected the performance.
Discuss how unusual technical elements (light, shadow, sound, etc.) were used in the performance.
Draw a picture of a character.
Illustrate or make a diorama of a scene from the performance.
Draw a poster to advertise the performance.
Work with other students to act out a scene.
Demonstrate how an actor used facial expression to show emotion.
Write a narrative story to summarize the plot of the performance story.
Use a map and/or timeline to locate the setting of the story.
Make a mobile showing events in the story
Cognitive Level II
Would the main character make a good friend? Write an expository essay explaining why or why not.
Create a graph that records performance data such as: female characters, male characters, animal characters or number of characters in each scene, etc.
Compare/Contrast a character to someone you know or compare/contrast the setting to a different location or time.
Solve a special effects mystery. Use words or pictures to explain how “special effects” (Lighting, smoke, sound effects) were created.
Image the story in a different time or place. Design sets or costumes for the new setting.
You’re the director. Plan the performance of a scene in your classroom. Include the cast of characters, staging area, and ideas for costumes, scenery, and props in your plan.
Create a new ending to the story.
Did you enjoy the performance? Write a persuasive essay convincing a friend to go see this production.
Write a letter to the production company nominating a performer for a “Best Actor Award.” Explain why your nominee should win the award.
Create a rubric to rate the performance. Decide on criteria for judging: Sets, Costumes, Acting, Lighting, Special Effects, Overall Performance, etc.
STAGES PRODUCTIONS is a professional theatre ensemble that specializes in bringing classic fairy tales to over 150,000 young people each year throughout the Southeast.
STAGES' show credits include critically acclaimed performances of: Mother Goose, Snow White, The Three Little Pigs, Let Freedom Sing and The Princess and the Pea. Be sure to join us for our 27th anniversary season featuring; School House Rock Live!, Santa’s Holiday Revue, Charlotte’s Web, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Cinderella.
Stages Productions is dedicated to making drama an integral part of education, and lesson plans are available to incorporate these plays into the student's curriculum. Thank you for supporting this mission by choosing a STAGES PRODUCTIONS play!
Florida Standards, 2014: www.cpalms.org
Revised Sunshine State Standards [online] Available: www.floridastandards.org
Bettelheim, B., (1975). The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales. (Vintage Books Edition, 1989). Random House.
Cashdan, Sheldon, (1999). The Witch Must Die: How Fairy Tales Shape Our Lives. (First Edition, 1999), Basic Books
Grimm, Jacob & Wilhelm. Grimm’s Fairy Tales. (1987). Longmeadow Press.