Every Tuesday and Thursday morning, TJC student Landice Anderson transforms into a greedy maidservant who plots to steal her master’s crown and become queen. Anderson is one of many students taking “Fairy Tale The- ater” for her Fine Arts credit.
“Theater isn’t my major, but as soon as I heard Dr. (David) Crawford was going to be teaching this class I immediately wanted to take it. He was involved in judging a performance I did in the ninth grade, and I loved his feed- back,” said Anderson.
Crawford’s “Fairy Tale Theater” is different from traditional classes based on lectures, books and exams.
“Fairy Tale Theatre is a performance class,” said Crawford.”We spend the semester in prep- aration for presenting children’s classic fairy tales in dramatic performance. Plays will be cast and rehearsed. All of this activity is geared toward producing short plays for kindergarten through third grades of nearby elementary schools. Be- tween mid-semester and finals, we will present
our plays to hundreds of school children. The class originated from Crawford’s de- sire to involve students in putting together a children’s Christmas play. The group first per- formed at Andy Woods Elementary School and was received so well that the idea to make it
into an accredited class began to evolve. The structure for the drama is loosely based on “Commedia dell’arte.” This was a form of theater that began in Italy in the 12th century, involving traveling bands of actors who would take a loose story line and improvise stories as
they went. This year students will perform the
fairytales “Goose Girl” and “The Little Farmer” by the Grimm Brothers, who are better known for tales such as “Cinderella,” “Hansel and Gre- tel” and “Rapunzel.”
First-year theater major C.C. Weatherly explains how this class is different.
“Many of my other courses are geared to- wards making acting your career. This class is more about having fun and doing things you’ve never done before.”
With a strong emphasis on teamwork, problem solving, and confidence, the out- come for each performance is in the hands of the student. Collaborating, each team comes up with how to improve their act. Criticism and encouragement are both given as each student works diligently to make each fairy tale the best it can be.
“The difficult part is coming up with all the lines ourselves. All we know is the story line, and have to create everything else,” said Weath- erly.
“I turn them loose and let them work it out,” Crawford said. “Most find it more chal- lenging than being told what to do, but that’s exactly the point. Education, especially in the- atre and speech, is all about experiential knowl- edge. I became a playwright through my failures, not my successes. That’s how we learn.” Majoring in Spanish and biochemistry pre-med, Megan Holladay said, “This class provides opportunity to make something truly
yours and be proud of it.” Holladay said even though theatre is not
her major, she will continue to be on stage as much as she can. “Theatre is so fun, and regard- less of what genre you do, it moves people. I love expressing myself on stage.”
Each play is approximately 15 minutes long. No costumes or props are used and all is left to the imagination of the audience. The students will be performing every Tuesday and Thursday in November, traveling to elementary schools all over Tyler.