When you mention the title of an Eric Carle book to a child or anyone who has ever been a child, the reaction is almost universal: a quick intake of breath, followed by a broad smile, and then a delighted and contented “Aah.”
A lot of “aah-ing” will ensue at Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall on April 23, when Darke County Center for the Arts’ Family Theatre Series presents its final production of the current season, Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia’s Brown Bear, Brown Bear and Other Treasured Stories by Eric Carle.
Those who have attended Mermaid Theatre’s past presentations are probably already thinking “Aah” as they recall the imaginatively produced shows they have enjoyed. The source material for these productions is derived from Carle’s captivating work for children which has won acclaim from parents and educators and kids for generations. In addition to watching Carle’s beloved Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? come to life on stage, audiences will witness the ravenous journey of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and the father/daughter quest revealed in Papa, Please Get the Moon For Me.
The caterpillar has visited our local stage many times previously, glowingly chomping its way through an ever-increasing array of fruit while illuminated by black light and accompanied by strains of music in a mesmerizing blend of puppetry and theater magic. If you’ve seen it before, you undoubtedly want to experience it once again, and at the same time be treated to the tales that are new to the local stage.
Eric Carle’s collaboration with Bill Martin Jr. to produce Brown Bear, Brown Bear launched the collagists highly successful career as a children’s book illustrator. Mermaid Theatre is the only company which Carle has entrusted with any of his titles; this partnership has provided a mesmerizing introduction to theater for families around the world.
In addition to being a writer, Brown Bear’s author Bill Martin Jr. was a teacher, school principal, and textbook editor, having earned a doctoral degree in early childhood education from Northwestern University. These accomplishments are somewhat astonishing, as Martin did not learn to read until he was in college. He credits his success to a grade school teacher who never missed a day of reading to him and his class; the lad loved the sound of the language and the images that words brought to his mind. “Even when type on a page didn’t make sense to me, I considered myself a reader,” the author stated, although his first actual book reading came when he was 20 years old.
Martin wrote Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See in 33 minutes one day while riding from his home to his office on a Long Island Railroad train. When he saw what children were able to do with that story, he became more courageous in creating rhythmic, highly patterned stories, writing over three hundred children’s books during his lifetime. Although the spelling may be different, Martin’s ability to overcome a learning disability that could have thwarted the less intrepid is also awe-inspiring, and adds significance to the delight his work has engendered.
Whether this production inspires an “Aah” or produces awe with its magic, audiences of all ages will leave Brown Bear, Brown Bear feeling well-entertained and happy, a pleasing outcome for all concerned. Tickets are just $5; to get yours, contact DCCA at 937-547-0908 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Tickets can also be purchased on-line at www.centerforarts.net and are available at the Greenville Public Library and Readmore’s Hallmark in Greenville, as well as at Worch Memorial Public Library in Versailles. If any remain by showtime, tickets will be sold at the box office prior to the performance which starts at 2 p.m.
Marilyn Delk is a director of the Darke County Center for the Arts and can be reached at email@example.com. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.
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