Advertisement

Theater group brings Eric Carle's children's books to life


The award-winning Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia returns to the Walton Arts Center on Jan. 13 with its charming adaptation of three of beloved author Eric Carle's most popular children's books. A company of two actors will perform "The Very Hungry Caterpillar," "The Mixed-Up Chameleon" and "Little Cloud" with a unique blend of black light and puppetry that promises to make audiences forget they're watching puppets.

"Our shows all have elements of what I call 'object movement' or 'puppetry: live animation' ," says Mermaid Theatre artistic director Jim Morrow, who adapted the books for the stage. "We create larger than life characters that come alive on stage. They're actual puppets that humans hold and move through space, but they look like real characters on stage in the black light. It's really quite magical."

Original music for the show was created by Steven Naylor.

"It provides that emotional component that's an important part of the production," notes Morrow.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Mermaid Theatre performing "The Very Hungry Caterpillar." Morrow says he consulted frequently with Carle as he adapted the author's most popular book, which has sold over 30 million copies since it was published in 1968. Morrow says that the simplicity of the story is a big part of its charm.

"Children love Eric's work," notes Morrow. "He's able to reach them in a way other authors can't: He doesn't try to say too much, and he opens enough space for the child to use his or her imagination in between the lines and in between the moments. He doesn't inundate his audience with too much text or visuals. Children love the chance to play intellectually with the story, and we've taken that and weaved a play around it. The moments are slow and methodical and gentle and paced really well. We've created openings in a play so a child can engage. I learned that from Eric. He taught me that when I was creating the plays in the 1990s. They were full plays, and he said, 'Don't try to do too much.'"

Morrow says the adaptation process included the exchange of ideas, concepts and storyboards with Carle.

"I thought there wasn't enough happening, so I took liberties, and he fired back," says Morrow. "I thought bringing the fruit on individually would be boring. I thought having them come on different ways would be better. He said, 'No, they love to count them as they come in individually.' I trusted that, and, you know, as a result of that simple concept, our shows are a little like rock concerts for the 3- to 4-year-old children."

A Mermaid Theatre production is often the first live theater a child has experienced, and Morrow takes that responsibility seriously.

"We have a no shushing policy," says Morrow. "If a child wants to vocally engage, we encourage that. Not only is it a child's first experience, but [also it is] often the first theater experience that a child and parent will have together. For one hour out of their lives, they can forget everything and have an hour together laughing and hugging and enjoying what's on stage. It creates a beautiful community."


FAQ

‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ & Other Eric Carle Favorites

WHEN — 2 p.m. Jan. 13

WHERE — Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville

COST — $9-$15

INFO — 443-5600

Be the first to review this item!


Bookmark this

04 Jan 2019


By Lara Jo Hightower
Advertisement

Recent Articles

Get a helping of real customer service at Richard’s Country Meat Market

Get a helping of real customer service at Richard’s Country Meat Market

in Food & Drink News

It's easy to get stuck in a routine; cooking what you know, week after week. Luckily, there's a local hero in Northwest Arkansas whose goal is to help you break away from this. Treat yourself right and introduce something new to your grill this year.

Come for pie, stay for breakfast at Village Inn

Come for pie, stay for breakfast at Village Inn

in Food & Drink News

For 80 years, Village Inn has been giving breakfast-for-dinner lovers an excuse to eat scratch-made buttermilk pancakes after the sun goes down.

Springdale's Explore Scientific to send eclipse glasses to South America

Springdale's Explore Scientific to send eclipse glasses to South America

in Community News

Scott Roberts, founder of Springdale's Explore Scientific, had the idea to recycle eclipse glasses from the 2017 Great American Eclipse and send them to South America for the total solar eclipse the continent will experience this year.

Finalists picked for Arkansas Food Hall of Fame

Finalists picked for Arkansas Food Hall of Fame

in Food & Drink News

The Department of Arkansas Heritage has named the finalists in four of the five categories for the 2019 Arkansas Food Hall of Fame, recognizing Arkansas restaurants, proprietors and food-themed events.

Advertisement

Must Read Articles

Career Academy of Hair Design graduates business savvy designers, entrepreneurs

Career Academy of Hair Design graduates business savvy designers, entrepreneurs

The high quality of Academy’s instructors sets Career Academy apart from others in the industry.

December 11, 2018 By Career Academy of Hair Design

Trendy Pigs & Slobbering Hogs

Trendy Pigs & Slobbering Hogs

Southern Trend Clothing has been nominated in this year’s Best of NWA for Best Boutique Shop, Best Women’s Clothing, Best Men’s Clothing, Best Children’s Clothing and Best Place to Buy a Gift.

December 5, 2018 By Karen Rice

Owner Rekindles Memories Of Dogpatch For Devoted Fans

Owner Rekindles Memories Of Dogpatch For Devoted Fans

For nearly 30 years, Dogpatch USA -- the theme park located between Harrison and Jasper on Arkansas 7 -- was a summer staple for children growing up in the general vicinity.

December 7, 2018 By Lara Jo Hightower