By Jennifer Mangan
HOW MUCH LAND DOES A MAN NEED, written by Leo Tolstoy and performed by the Perskey Ridge Players. Leo Tolstoy is hardly a popular author among tweens, so it’s unlikely your child has read this short story or even knows who Tolstoy is. Every Globalstage video begins with hosts Elizabeth McNamer and Pratt’s son, Preston Bleakly, discussing the play they are about to see. In this video, Preston asks all the right questions while McNamer, a knowledgeable British auntie type, offers background on Tolstoy and his motivation for writing the story. This adaptation stays true to the original story of greed, but the performers add slapstick and zip to the production. Buck, the main character, is a happy “man of the earth.” He farms the land, loves his wife and is pleased with his life... until the Narrator shows up. Clad in a soldier’s helmet, a gladiator’s vest, a shimmering skirt, pink tutu and cowboy boots (I later learn her outfit represents the past, present, and future, but I just liked her individuality), she informs Buck that he is merely a poor sharecropper who does not own the land he works. No longer content, Buck begins an insatiable quest for more and more land, more and more wealth. At the expense of everything he once valued, Buck’s greed eventually costs him his life. Sounds pretty heavy, but the actors’ quick-witted deliveries turn the story into a satirical, live-action fantasy that provides a treasure chest of wisdom and reason for conversation. PLAYING FROM THE HEART, written by Charles Way and performed by the Polka Theatre for Children. Kids love true stories about determination. This dramatization based on the life of Evelyn Glennie, a world-renowned musician, begins on a farm in Scotland when Evelyn was a young girl who wanted more than anything to be a musician. To achieve her dream, she first had to overcome a major obstacle: Evelyn was profoundly deaf by the age of 8. The five-member cast (with the help of a percussionist) perform the story of Evelyn’s fight against those who don’t believe she has “ears on the inside” or is gifted enough to be accepted into London’s Royal Academy of Music. There’s no glitzy stage set or props; its success is due to the unadorned method of storytelling. A studio interview with the real Evelyn Glennie concludes the video. Each video includes a pamphlet that describes the performance. The pamphlet accompanying this 98-minute video includes discussions of determination, deafness, sign language and even stereotyping of people who are deaf or have disabilities.
THE MAN WHO CORRUPTED HADLEYBURG, written by Mark Twain and performed by the Perskey Ridge Players. I would not suggest beginning your Globalstage experience with this adaptation of the story written by Mark Twain. Some of the male performers (they often play dual roles) are dressed as women, which kids may find a bit too strange. This amateurish production was my least favorite Globalstage performance, although it has my favorite take on the theme of greed. Hadleyburg is a small town that prides itself on its honesty. But, as Twain contends, how can we claim to be honest if we are never tempted? Before Hadleyburg is to receive the Most Incorruptible Award a mysterious bag of money shows up on the steps of city hall. An attached note says the contents, $40,000 worth of gold, should be given to the man who can write down the exact words he used 20 years earlier when he gave $20 to the stranger. Temptation and greed become the major themes explored in this 42-minute video.
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