The Transition of Doodle Pequeño

By Melanie Ridgway

One year ago, I noticed a similarity in my course syllabi for Intro to Theatre for Young Audiences I and Masters of Modern Drama: both courses were scheduled to read The Transition of Doodle Pequeño by Gabriel Jason Dean. If this play was considered worthy material for both a TYA course and a play about “masters,” I knew it had to be worth reading. I was right; it was love at first “bahfoogee.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Transition of Doodle Pequeño is a magic-filled, multiple award-winning play for all ages about two boys who become friends in spite of their differences. It’s Halloween and Doodle is the new kid in the neighborhood. Accompanied by his imaginary goat, Doodle befriends Reno, a boy who is unpopular with the neighborhood kids because he likes to wear dresses. A blend of English, Spanish and “Goat,” this comic play takes a heartwarming look at the consequences of misused language and interrogates the issue of gender-bullying.

After reading through this play the first (and second) time, I was amazed at the risks this play took, especially considering it was a play for young audiences. Gabriel Jason Dean approaches some very heavy topics, topics that even adults are afraid to talk about. Despite its heavy content, the story is still hilarious, playful and engaging. I needed to bring it to life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doodle has been performed in readings and workshops at universities like Northwestern and The University of Texas, but I was surprised that it had not been performed yet in New York. Thanks to the support of Lamplighters (NYU’s Theatre for Young Audience Club) and the leadership of director (and my dear friend) Kathleen Turner, The Transition of Doodle Pequeño is finally getting its New York debut! As opening morning approaches, I could not be more proud of the hard work put in by the cast and production team. It’s been a beautiful journey and when those lights come up next Saturday, one year’s worth of waiting will finally be over.

The Transition of Doodle Pequeño will be performed on November 22nd at 10 am and 1 pm and November 23rd at 2 pm. The performances will take place at 238 Thompson Street (GCASL), Room C-95. Reserve your seat here: http://transitionofdoodlepequeno.eventbrite.com/

 

Kids Receive a Story As an “Explosion”: A Discussion on Storytelling in TYA

By Arielle Sosland

A month ago, Lamplighters, the Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA) Club at NYU had their annual professional development panel. This year’s panel focused on the significance and importance of storytelling in TYA. The panel consisted of six professionals, five panelists and one moderator, of all varying experiences including teaching artists, artistic directors, teachers, and professional storytellers. After the panelists enjoyed some food, tweeted about the panel and took selfies in the style of Ellen DeGeneres at the Oscars, we were ready to begin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jonathan Shmidt-Chapman, adjunct Educational Theatre professor acted as moderator and led the conversation in a very dynamic way.

The panelists jumped into the discussion with fervor answering the question, what engages you in a story? James Miles, adjunct professor in Educational Theatre began the conversation articulating the importance of conflict in a story. As an actor, Miles explained he is often drawn toward comedy and comedy usually works best if there is a conflict at the center of the story. Lauren Jost, artistic director of Spellbound Theatre expressed a conflicting opinion explaining that in her work, creating theatre for the very young does not always need a conflict, but rather should be relatable to children and adult audiences. Spencer Lott, Artistic Manager with Trusty Sidekick Theater, enjoys fantasy that has “roots in reality, but is a little bit warped.” Carolyn Fagan, an Education Programs Manager at The New Victory Theater, likes to laugh. She prefers to listen to stories that make her laugh and occasionally surprise her! Lastly, Laura Simms, internationally acclaimed storyteller, writer and humanitarian, loves to watch a shift in the audience as a story is being presented or performed. With a flood of fascinating and differing opinions, our panel had begun.

Next, Shmidt-Chapman brought up the question of the difference in telling a story to young people versus to adults. Miles was the first to answer this question explaining that he finds great importance in making sure under represented populations are in his stories, aka women, minorities, etc. Lott pointed out the overused idea of creating TYA based upon “what we think that kids will want” rather than challenging kids and realizing that kids live in an adult world and therefore can experience theatre similarly. Simms brought up the criticality of finding what is meaningful for children versus adults and bridging the two. Fagan finalizes the answer to the question describing how kids receive a story as an “explosion.” Kids have a visceral reaction to theatre that is less seen in theatre for adult audiences.

Shmidt-Chapman subsequently brings up the topic of the difference between stories in a classroom and stories in a theatre. When presenting a story in a classroom, you immediately lose the aesthetic frame available in a theatre. Simms reminded us that when a story is told without theatrical or spectacular elements, children are able to “see through the focus of [their] own imagination.” Miles adds that in more intimate settings like classrooms, the young listeners are just as involved as the performers themselves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So what is the future of storytelling, asks an eager audience member. Carolyn initiates the conversation with the importance of technology. She retorts that technology should be used to our advantage in telling stories to young people. She reminds us that social media is about telling your story about other people’s stories. Shmidt-Chapman brings in an anecdote about a teacher that had his class participate in Show & Tell by finding Youtube videos that they wanted to show and present to the class. This is using technology and today’s social media world to our advantage. Lott adds that young people desire interactivity and we need to interweave interactivity into our work in TYA.

As we wrapped up with this idea of interactivity, Lamplighters members eager to learn more, got a chance to continue the conversation with our panelists over brunch afterwards. It was thrilling to hear professionals in the field of TYA and storytelling talk about their stances on a fairly narrow topic and I could tell it really excited the group of students about the future of this field.

I want to thank our panelists Carolyn Fagan, Lauren Jost, Spencer Lott, James Miles, and Laura Simms along with our moderator Jonathan Shmidt-Chapman for being so gracious with their time and ideas at this panel! On behalf of Lamplighters, we thank you and look forward to another great panel next year.

Lamplighters

Lamplighters is a cross-school collaboratory theatre initiative for New York University students interested in Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA). Lamplighters is an All-Square organization at NYU open to ALL students from any of the colleges at the university.

Our Mission

Lamplighters is devoted to exploring engaging, accessible, and thoughtful theatre for all ages. Using the collaborative talents of a variety of students from all different schools at NYU, we strive to build a community of artists, educators, designers, and professionals who have a strong respect for and interest in TYA at NYU and in New York City. We work to promote a fun and stimulating environment of learning and creation, as well as provide opportunities for professional development, artistic achievement, group-learning, and collaboration through events, meetings, and the development of new productions.

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