This post about a new interactive Museum performance was shared by AmeriCorps Museum Educator Francesca Montanile.
When the theatre team assembled for our first meeting, we had no idea
what our new play would be. Despite the uncertainty, there was an
excitement in the air. Dozens of ideas were tossed around, but we kept
coming back to a sequel to Jack and the Beanstalk. The ideas for
different scenes, participatory challenges, and plot twists came
naturally, buzzing with possibility. We gathered a team of theatre
makers and educators to refine our storyline and the script was born.
The 20-minute performance tells the story of Jack, who is kidnapped and
taken to Cloud Town after breaking the Giant’s crown. His sister Jill
enlists the audience to help rescue him. In Cloud Town, they tackle a
series of spatial thinking challenges to escape. In the end, they must
meet the Giant face to face!
One of our guiding principles throughout the process was to make the play as participatory as possible. The Museum is a place for play
and exploration, and we wanted our audience to be a part of the story.
To me, the creation of the play itself felt like a puzzle. It was
inspiring to see how many people from the Museum’s community chipped in
and added an essential piece to the final product. From the backdrop
sewn by Philenda, to the rock set piece made by the exhibits team, to
the contributions of fellow AmeriCorps members – finger puppets sewn by
Amanda and brilliant set and props by Sarah and Mandy – the play was
collaborative in every sense of the word. The Giant’s evolution was like
a visual timeline of our process. From its humble beginnings as a huge
blue yoga ball to a loveable big-eyed puppet, many hands helped apply
paper maché and many minds brainstormed its mechanics.
When the morning of the opening performance arrived, I began to get a
little nervous. It felt like a piece of our puzzle was missing. As I
spoke my first lines, it became immediately clear: the children in the
audience were the missing piece! All of a sudden, the story was alive
and exciting. The challenges were urgent. The Giant was gigantic!
play is a joy to perform because the energy kids create is infectious.
Their tendencies to speak aloud, get the “wiggles,” and experience the
story in real time might be a challenge in a conventional theatre
setting but become assets as they transform into our play’s
After the Beanstalk is presented Mondays through August 12 at 10:30
& 11:30 AM and 12:30 & 1:30 PM; recommended for ages 3