Tuesday, August 01, 2017

“Wilde Tales,” a fun inclusive experience at The Shaw

A yearly highlight of the Shaw Festival season are their lunch-time hour productions which are staged in the intimate Court House Theatre.

This year’s offering is “Wilde Tales,” a fun program and inclusive experience.  It’s composed of three Oscar Wilde short children’s stories adapted by Kate Henning and takes place in the magnificent garden of Oscar Wilde’s imagination.

The offerings include “The Happy Prince,” “The Nightingale and the Rose,” and “The Selfish Giant” all based on the concept that love is “a powerful, life-altering force which is not confined to the mating of a man and a woman, not, for that matter even between humans.”  The fact that Wilde was a homosexual adds to the understanding of his expansive view of love.

In “The Happy Prince,” a sparrow comes across a golden statue of a prince.  The statue weeps for the poor citizens of the town.  The sparrow desires to travel the world with his flock, but he is so taken with the honesty and passion of the prince that he stays and aids the prince by doing kind things for the town folk.  Unfortunately, as the season changes from summer to winter, the sparrow dies from the cold, leaving the prince alone, with a broken heart.

The "Nightingale and the Rose" finds a nightingale who comes across a young student who is in love.  In order to win his lady fair, the youth must find the reddest rose in the kingdom.  In order to get the needed deep blood-red color, the nightingale impales her own heart on a thorn.  She gives her life so that the student can find true love.

"The Selfish Giant," centers on a mean giant who forbids children to play in his beautiful garden.  Because of his selfishness, winter lasts forever and the garden never blooms again.  Finally, the giant recants and allows the children back into the garden, and it flowers again.  One small boy especially wins over the giant.  After the boy leaves, the giant does not see him again until his life ends.

An announcement for the play states, “Calling all children!  We want you not only to see “Wilde Tales” but to make it happen.  Sign up in advance for the pre-show one-hour workshop with the actors to help create the magic on stage.  For ages 6 to 12.”

Yes, children circle the thrust stage of the theatre and give the actors props, some get to take roles, all become the flowers in the garden.  They also get to have their pictures taken with the cast.

The children on stage, and using members of the audience to make sound effects, sing, and do various other tasks, is part of The Shaw’s new policy for creating inclusive theatre which is a device used in this year’s offerings.

The cast includes:  Marion Day, Emily Lukasik, PJ Prudat, Sanjay Talwar, Jonathan Tan and Kelly Wong playing multi-roles.

Capsule judgment:  Christine Brubaker’s direction is creative, the casts are excellent, and the over-all effect is fun, educational and stimulating.  This is a wonderful example of children’s theatre for those of all ages.

For theater information, a brochure or tickets, call 800-511-7429 or go on-line to http://www.shawfest.com. Ask about packages that include lodging, meals and tickets. Also be aware that the festival offers day-of-the-show rush tickets and senior matinee prices.