Engaging, educational interactivity for teenage performers and audiences.

From Footlights to Flashlights

TEN CONCEPTUAL PLAYS THAT REACH AND TEACH TEENS

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 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4575-3962-6

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Dog Ear

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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