4. So then I thought, “What if I combine improvisation with an actual storyline?” This idea was appealing because it cut out the “rehearsal” step but still created a play with a beginning, middle, and end. I again used The Mitten. I chose it because I am very familiar with the story, children can choose any animal they like, and everyone participates at the same time. It was a resounding success.
5. The many times I have done this story have all blurred together into one happy mess, but it went something like this:
- Read the story together.
- Identify the characters. We skipped location and revisiting beginning, middle and end.
- Choose a character you would like to play. It is okay to have more than one of any character, or none of another character.
- Put on costumes.
- Decide where the actors should begin: on-stage or off-stage.
- Introduce the play to your eager audience….”Ladies and Gentlemen, the Kid’s Museum Players present…”
- Begin the story by reading from the book, but extend out in to improv whenever and whereever it’s needed.
- When each child enters, audibly prompt him or her and offer choices for acting moments.
- At the end, remember to bow.
6. And so was born, StoryBook Theatre. Yes, it had a different title. It was changed to PictureBook Plays after we determined that StoryBook Theatre was too broad. It could be anything. And is, indeed, used by many theatre companies and schools to mean various things. But, PictureBook Plays only means one thing: Creating Plays from Picture Books.