Appalachian Young People's Theatre returns
Children dream throughout the day, and undergraduates from
Appalachian State University are working to pique their imaginations.
The Appalachian Young People's Theatre is returning April 9-11 to present a reworking of the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale, Nightingale.
The story sweeps up the audience and brings them to Imperial China, where the Emperor laments his unhappiness. Although the Emperor has amassed great wealth and holds great power, he finds no joy in his place at the head of his empire. When he hears the song of a cheerful nightingale, he captures her and keeps her in the palace to lift his heart.
As the days go by in the palace, the nightingale loses her joyful songs and cannot sing while held captive. When the little bird stops singing her joyful songs, the Emperor banishes her and commands her to never sing again. Throughout the presentations, the audience will take part as members interact with the story.
The Appalachian Young People's Theatre was founded in 1972 and has been performing for children every year since then. The group travels to the communities and public schools in Northwestern North Carolina and performs with simple sets and costumes and accompanied by music. The group has performed Rumpelstiltskin, Jack and the Wonder Beans, The Princess and the Pea, Huckleberry Finn, Cinderella and Puss in Boots, among many others.
Teresa Lee, director of the Appalachian Young People's Theatre, shared her thoughts on the experience.
"Child audiences are the best audiences in the world," she said. "Stories are the way that we learn about our lives and particularly young audiences, children come together and share this same experience.It's something very basic, a human need, to share stories with one another. Children laugh, they have a good time, but they also learn something."
She said that the outstanding aspect of this season's performance is the audience interaction, particularly in the venue, the I.G. Greer Studio Theatre on the Appalachian campus.
"The Greer studio is small, and the audience gets to be close to the actors," Lee said. "It is very wonderful and a very immediate experience."
The undergraduate students from the theater and performance department at Appalachian State University have been practicing since the first week of school in January. They were on tour after their spring break. Lee said that they travel to anywhere they can reach and return from within a day.
"I always tell people that I have the greatest job in the world if I can go out and make 500 children laugh and see their smiling faces," Lee said.
The students earn three credit hours for putting together the play and then touring the rest of the semester.
"They are dedicated way beyond what they get back for course credit," Lee said.
Nightingale runs Friday, April 9, at 7 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, April 10 and 11, at 2 p.m. in the I.G. Greer Studio Theatre.
Tickets are $8 for adults, faculty and seniors, and $5 for students and children. Groups can contact Sarah Miller, box office manager, for reduced rates at (828) 262-8342. The box office is open Monday through Friday, from 2-5 p.m., and one hour prior to show time. People can purchase tickets in person, by phone at (828) 262-3063, or online at http://www.theatre.appstate.edu/performances.