CM . . .
. Volume XI Number 10 . . . . January 21, 2005
Putting on a Show is a collection of four plays by Kathleen McDonnell, a versatile writer for children and an author of YA novels as well as adult books about issues facing children. The plays contained in this edition have all been performed for young audiences.
The book contains an introduction that will be interesting reading for a pre-adolescent or teenager keen on understanding the magic of theatre. It offers a short history of theater in the western world, and tips on how to stage a play. The conversational style of writing engages readers in a mental dialogue that will give them the ability to visualize and then realize the performance of a play. An extensive glossary of terms at the end of the book provides clear explanations.
The first play, “Loon Boy,” is about a boy who must go live with a foster mother and who learns to deal with personal issues. This play won a 1994 Chalmers Canadian Children's Play Award for young audience theatre.
McDonnell adapted and extended her children’s book, Ezzie's Emerald, into a musical of the same name. The plot follows an overweight girl who finds self-confidence when she meets a comical fairy godmother.
The Seven Ravens is an adaptation of the story by the Grimm Brothers in which a young girl must travel to the end of the world to free them from a curse that has turned them into ravens. Two versions of the manuscript are included, thereby allowing readers to compare to see the changes that can take place when a play is workshopped.
The last play, Foundlings, is the only play aimed at children aged 12-14. It has two acts and is set in Greece in the fifth century BCE, but the characters speak in contemporary language. Combining myths and history, it deals with the abandonment of children and the lasting psychological trauma that results.
Putting on a Show will be very useful in a drama class. The plays will educate students and give them an opportunity to develop their dramatic talents through interesting, challenging plays.
Harriet Zaidman is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.