A Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA) production of Jack and the Bean Stalk was the first professional play I remember seeing. It was at the Palestine Civic Center. It was one of my favorite stories and I just fell in love with Harp. I had already started writing short stories about my stuffed animals to entertain my little sister, but at seeing this production, I knew that I wanted to bring stories to life.
Years later, I saw Stephen Sondheim's "Into the Woods" on PBS and discovered that theatre could do so much more than delight, enchant, and entertain. I learned that plays could crack open the myths of the world and speak the truth. This meant that my stories could have a greater sense of purpose and that was powerful.
It should come as no surprise that "Giants in the Sky" is one of my favorite songs in "Into the Woods." These lyrics in particular resonate with me:
"The roof, the house, and your Mother at the door.
The roof, the house and the world you never thought to explore.
And you think of all of the things you've seen,
And you wish that you could live in between,
And you're back again,
Only different than before,
After the sky.
There are Giants in the sky!
There are big tall terrible awesome scary wonderful
Giants in the sky!"
Like Jack, when the cyclone takes Dorothy “over the rainbow” to the wonderful and magical land of Oz, she has an adventure that changes her life. While Oz doesn't have giants, magic beans, or a beautiful harp, Dorothy must brave witches, flying monkeys, and a Haunted Forest all to meet the Wizard of Oz, who she hopes will help her return home. With the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion, Dorothy learns the value of friendship, that true courage requires you to believe in yourself, and that you'll be far happier and perhaps a little less lonely if you learn to appreciate all that you have.
As I embark on this adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz for Adventure Theatre, I feel the joy and honor of a great noble task ahead of me. For some young audience member, this may be their very first production and it might even inspire a future playwright. Either way, I'm excited to be working with director Roberta Gasbarre and dramaturg Otis Ramsey-Zoe, and couldn't be more proud or appreciative for this opportunity. Of course, I very much look forward to sharing it with all of you!
Original Cover and Title Page
Introduction by L. Frank Baum
Folklore, legends, myths and fairy tales have followed childhood through the ages, for every healthy youngster has a wholesome and instinctive love for stories fantastic, marvelous and manifestly unreal. The winged fairies of Grimm and Andersen have brought more happiness to childish hearts than all other human creations.
Yet the old time fairy tale, having served for generations, may now be classed as "historical" in the children's library; for the time has come for a series of newer "wonder tales" in which the stereotyped genie, dwarf and fairy are eliminated, together with all the horrible and blood-curdling incidents devised by their authors to point a fearsome moral to each tale. Modern education includes morality; therefore the modern child seeks only entertainment in its wonder tales and gladly dispenses with all disagreeable incident.
Having this thought in mind, the story of "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" was written solely to please children of today. It aspires to being a modernized fairy tale, in which the wonderment and joy are retained and the heartaches and nightmares are left out."
Click here to learn more L. Frank Baum and here to read the entire Oz Series.
Illustrations by W. W. Denslow
I'm a playwright, dramaturg, and teaching artist. It is here where you'll find my queries and musings on life, theater and the world. My posts advocate for diversity, inclusion, and equity in the American Theatre and updates on my own work. Please enjoy!