You Don’t Know Jack
You know the story: Boy buys magic beans, grows massive beanstalk, battles a giant.
But what about the untold story, more specifically, one told from a cow’s perspective?
Call it bovine providence, as Appalachian Young People’s Theatre is turning the most famous of Jack tales on its head with its production of “BEANS TALK: A Cow, Some Beans and a Boy Named Jack.”
Written by Appalachian State University’s own Derek Davidson, the children’s play is a clever take on “Jack on the Beanstalk,” unraveling the “true story” behind that fateful day in fairy tale history.
Audiences can get the scoop April 13 to 15, as the play’s presented at ASU’s I.G. Greer Studio Theatre on campus.
According to director Teresa Lee, the play, while intended for children, offers fun for the whole family, with singing, live music, audience participation and one heck of an entertaining story.
“It’s fun to discover some different angles to an old, familiar story that we all were told as children,” Lee said. “We see the familiar story of Jack … as if it were picked up as a news story. We all become aware of the effect of the telling and retelling of a story and how it changes from person to person in a way.”
Furthermore, the story is narrated by Jack’s cow, the very one traded for those fateful beans.
“The cow’s trying to set the record straight about the real story, trying to get Jack to own up about the truth of what really happened and not his exaggeration,” Lee said. “And there’s an ending with a twist that we might not expect.”
The audience can, however, expect a good time.
“We’ve had a great response,” Lee said. “I think the children like seeing the story inside of another story. They love the animal characters, and I think it plays well to a range of audiences because there’s something in it for everyone – a lot of physical action and humor. But some of the older kids begin to understand the more nuanced aspects of the play, like the importance of telling the truth, why stories change when you retell them and the consequences of exaggerating.”
Appalachian Young People’s Theatre, a student outreach program and academic course, has already presented “BEANS TALK” at various High Country schools to kids’ delight, Lee said, adding that the experience is just as worthwhile for the university students on stage.
“Appalachian Young People’s Theatre is a unique program because it’s both a learning experience and hands-on, practical experience,” Lee said. “One of the most valuable lessons for our students is working together as a team – teambuilding, problem-solving, design and technical elements, rehearsing, pulling the show together and then taking it out on the road.”
That includes upcoming stops in Burke County, Lenoir and the Outer Banks.
“As performers, they build their skills because every audience is different, every performance venue is different,” Lee said. “They’re usually performing to large audiences … and they get to perform for child audiences, and there are no audiences better in the world than an audience full of children.”
Lee, who’s worked with AYPT for 25 years, is helping the program celebrate its 40th anniversary this year. Since its inception, she estimates the program has reached approximately 150,000 children, serving around 25,000 students per year.
The group hopes to add to that number April 13 through 15, as “BEANS TALK” plays for the general public at ASU’s I.G. Greer Studio Theatre. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 13, and 2 p.m. on both Saturday, April 14, and Sunday, April 15.
Tickets cost $6 for ASU students and children, $8 for faculty, staff and seniors, and $10 for adults, and are now on sale at the Valborg Theatre box office. For more information, call the box office at (828) 262-3063 or visit http://www.theatre.appstate.edu.
I.G. Greer Studio Theatre is located on the lower level of I.G. Greer Hall on the east side of the building, facing B.B. Dougherty Administration Building. Parking on campus is available after 5 p.m. daily and all weekend in faculty lots and parking decks.