Dr. Judy Matetzschk-Campbell is the Founder and Artistic Director of Pollyanna Theatre Company, one of the Long Center’s new Resident Companies. Pollyanna’s current show, “Plus Meets Minus,” runs through May 18 at the Rollins Studio Theatre. Below, Judy shares her thoughts on the art of making theatre that is appealing to children AND their parents at the same time.
PLUS MEETS MINUS, A New Play for Children by Katherine Gee Perrone, produced by Pollyanna Theatre Company is running in the Rollins Studio Theatre through May 18. This newest production by Pollyanna (One of the Long Center’s new Resident Companies) is a perfect example of what I love most about producing new plays for a child audience. Perrone’s script and characters operate on a wide variety of levels and offer audience members of all ages an engaging theatre experience. It has always been my belief that “Good Theatre is good theatre”. By that I mean, that no matter what story is told by a theatre for young audience‘s production, every member of the audience should be enjoying the play. While younger audience members may relate differently to the main characters in PLUS MEETS MINUS than their parents will, ultimately, in a good play there is a point of identification for everyone watching. The children seeing the play may be laughing at one thing while the adult sitting next to them may be laughing at something else.
The play also contains many emotions that both generations will share. These are magical moments in the theatre when everyone is feeling the struggles and victories of the characters together, whether they are 4 or 40 years of age. That is always a part of a great theatre for young audiences production. I believe that PLUS MEETS MINUS will have children as young as 3 and 4 years of age watching and listening closely as Perrone’s action- driven play has them waiting to see what Addy Plus and Minus Takeaway will do next. I also believe that the parents or caregivers of those same children will be watching and listening as they see characteristics in both Addy and Minus that remind them of people that they know and perhaps even remind them a bit of themselves.
Pollyanna has had the great fortune over the last five weeks of working with Pre-Kindergarten teachers and students at Baty, Becker, and Dawson Elementary Schools as more than 200 children from those campuses prepare to make their very first trip to The Long Center. In addition to using theatre and other arts activities to teach basic math concepts, the series of classes also introduced these very young learners to the tools that are used by actors on the stage: Our eyes, ears, voices, bodies, and imaginations. We have worked to stress to these children that these are all tools that they, too, have and that they, too, are able creators. We are thrilled with the success of the over 90 classes we have shared with these very special neighbors (all three of these schools are within 3 miles of The Long Center). We have LOVED welcoming them into the theatre where Addy and Minus are waiting to meet them.
Won’t you come along and meet them, too? I promise that the child that lives inside each of us will see familiar faces on the stage of The Rollins.