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It’s Monday and time to bring back another visit and update on WHAT ARE THE PROS UP TO? You’ve been hearing from Sandy Asher lately as she and I trade weeks chatting about writing on my Tuesday segment, WRITERS AT WORK. So today I asked Sandy to bring us all up to date on what she has been up to lately. To see Sandy’s original appearance on my blog, go to this link. https://davidlharrison.wordpress.com/2009/12/11/guest-blog-by-sandy-asher/
Hi, Sandy. What’s up with you these days?
Hi, David. The big news about my work is TELL YOUR STORY: THE PLAYS AND PLAYWRITING OF SANDRA FENICHEL ASHER, which is “about my work” but not entirely by me. It’s a collection of six of my published plays for young audiences, with commentary by editors Judy Matetzschk-Campbell, Ph.D., and John D. Newman, Ph.D. The collection made its debut in August at the Dramatic Publishing Company booth at the American Alliance for Theatre and Education (AATE) conference in San Francisco. Very thrilling, humbling, and kind of overwhelming, really. I’m used to writing about, not being written about!
Here at home, I’m currently working on a stage adaptation of my picture book HERE COMES GOSLING! This is a really interesting project, my first attempt at something called “full immersion theatre for the very young.” A couple of years ago, my daughter, granddaughter, and I attended a London production of a play called “How Long Is A Piece of String?” It was put on by a company called Oily Cart (see many fascinating clips by doing an “Oily Cart” search on YouTube), which specializes in this kind of theatre. During the course of a magical hour, my granddaughter and the rest of the children, ages 3 – 6, were up and about, each tending to a yarn “baby,” trotting along a “rope-y road” with the actors, rowing a ship on a stormy sea, bathing their babies in a shower of bubbles aglow in colored lights, singing a lullaby — and much, much more.
The idea is to involve the children in the story by engaging their senses as much as possible. The production enchanted all three of our attending generations, and I was determined to try something like it when I got home. HERE COMES GOSLING! seemed perfect for the basic story, and directors at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti and Pollyanna Theatre Company in Austin, TX, have agreed to help me develop the script. I’ve done a couple of drafts and will be going up to Michigan in November to “test drive” some of my ideas with Head Start classes. Performances are scheduled for March at EMU and May in Austin.
But here’s the tricky part: The EMU production will be “full immersion,” with small audiences of children up and involved with the actors all the way. The Pollyanna production needs to be a traditional proscenium stage version, with the actors on stage and the kids in their seats. So I’m writing the play two ways at once! I may even be working with two different composers, one for a more musical version at EMU, the other for mainly incidental, background music for Pollyanna.
What a challenge! And what fun! Along with that, I’m juggling a couple of other plays-in-various-stages-of-progress — one for adults and one for teens — and also continuing my work with Youtheatre at the Fulton on our group-devised script about immigration, “For We Were Strangers in the Land.” That received a workshop production at the Fulton Theatre here in Lancaster this past summer. We revise and rehearse during monthly meetings through the school year and the six-week summer intensive, and then put on a full-out production at the Fulton next July.
And that’s what’s new here in Lancaster, PA. Thanks for asking, David.