Theatre for Young People seeks larger audiences

Children need a varied diet of genres and styles when it comes to theater, according to Jeanne Klein, Kansas University associate professor of theater and director of Theatre for Young People. Melodramas, comedies, fantasies and realistic plays should all be on the menu.

“There are plays of all stripes and colors for all ages,” she said. “New scripts are constantly being written and being made available.”

Whitney Armstrong, left, and Erin Burns are seen in a scene from Theatre for Young People's Afternoon

Klein said she hopes that more parents bring their children to Theater for Young People shows this year.

“We exist for the kids of this community,” she said. “Lots of Lawrence teachers appreciate what we do and we’ve won their support because of the quality of shows we’ve done over the years.

“But if we would do a public performance, we would get a handful of people. The ticket price isn’t the issue. It’s the habit of going to theater (that’s not been developed). There’s a misconception that children’s theater is for little kids. Parents should be coming out in droves to theater.”

The company will open its season in November with a play that Klein has wanted to direct for a number of years. “Where to Turelu?” is inspired by commedia dell’arte and European circus techniques.

“I will not direct it in strict commedia dell’arte,” Klein said. “But the costumes will be fanciful. I will try to cast students who have acrobatic and tumbling skills. We’ll use calliope music and sound effects to create a circus mood.”

The spring offering is “Jungalbook,” an adaptation by Edward Mast based on the Rudyard Kipling’s Mowgli stories. The play will be presented in February and directed by Dennis Christilles, associate professor of theater at KU.

The play will use masks and puppets. Projections of the art and architecture of India will be used to create the characters’ different states of mind. Lengths of cloth will present the river and other objects.

The Theatre for Young People 2002-2003 season includes:”Where to Turelu?” school performances at 1 p.m. Nov. 4-8 and public performance at 2:30 p.m. Nov. 10, Crafton-Preyer Theatre.”Jungalbook,” school performances at 1 p.m. Feb. 3-5 and 10-11 and public performance at 2:30 p.m. Feb. 9, Crafton-Preyer Theatre. Tickets are on sale at the Murphy Hall Box Office, 864-3982.