From Footlights to Flashlights by Gwyn English Nielsen

From Footlights to Flashlights

Ten Conceptual Plays that Reach and Teach Teens
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In this debut collection, a current secondary schoolteacher offers original theater pieces, suitable for adolescents to perform and discuss.

Nielsen (Serendipity & the Dream Catcher, 2003, etc.) shares 10 original, short plays that may be produced “sans royalty fees.” Some have already been tested with audiences “in two middle schools and in one high school and were met with outstanding reviews.” She devotes a chapter to each play, complete with discussions of general themes (morality, grief, etc.) and specific staging suggestions. The plays are: Allegorical Chairs, which features Good and Evil among its characters; Chain Link, focused on eating disorders and including flashlights as props; To Be—or Not to Be—One of Us, about peer pressure, with a dream sequence featuring twirling umbrellas; Cup of Random Joes, in which a girl finds a perfect date just under her nose; Two Guys and a Guillotine, based on an “injustice” that Nielsen witnessed; Trilogy of Rude Behavior, showcasing impolite actions in a store, subway, and movie theater; Hold the Phone, a dramatization of miscommunication; Baseball: America’s Pastime, inspired by sexism that Nielsen’s daughter experienced playing the sport; Within and Without Magic, in which magic tricks help a boy deal with his grandfather’s death; and Rainbow Blue, a lesson in tolerance. Performer, writer, and teacher Nielsen, who’s also written children’s books, provides teens (and teachers of teens) with a charming, diverse collection to play out the learning benefits of drama. Her effective use of props, audience-participation prompts, and expressionistic staging (such as the couples physically linked together during parts of Chain Link) create plenty of opportunities for hands-on fun that will involve teens in the performances. Although teens will find some of the author’s plays more naturally entertaining than others, the collection as a whole offers them a good array of subjects and styles to choose from.

Engaging, educational interactivity for teenage performers and audiences.

Pub Date: June 4th, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-4575-3962-6
Page count: 250pp
Publisher: Dog Ear
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2016


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