Lucas reviews “The Velveteen Rabbit”

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        As you know or if you don’t know, I’ll tell you this. The Velveteen Rabbit play is a Christmas story. Instead of camping outside stores just to get a good Black Friday price or something like that, come see this play. Rather than climbing up to your rooftop and sitting there waiting to see Santa, come see this play. Instead of kissing under the mistletoe, come see this play. You could have a nice refreshing drink of sparkling apple cider and have a belated Thanksgiving feast, but if I were you, I would rather come see this play.

        If you go to The Velveteen Rabbit, you will have a better sense about love.The boy’s love for his rabbit is unstoppable.

        At the beginning, the boy receives a velveteen rabbit. They play with each other, sleep with one other, and go everywhere together. The other toys make fun of the rabbit. But the rabbit doesn’t care, for they are not real, and he is… or so he thinks. One day the boy becomes sick. The velveteen rabbit is worried. Suddenly, the grandmother takes the rabbit because he is full of germs. He is left to burn in a trash pile in the garden. There might be a little magic that I have left out of the story. If you go, you will know.

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        I went to the play and watched the show. Then after that, I was shown a secret stairway that lead to the sound booth. I have a badge that gives me full security access. I don’t know what that means, but I’m guessing that is why I got to go up to the sound booth. I saw the script of the play, a microphone, and a computer. When you are up in the sound booth, you can technically watch the play just from up there.

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        Afterward I went backstage and interviewed the actors and actresses. Here are some of the questions that I asked:

Is it easy to put on a show like The Velveteen Rabbit?

        ✦ “It’s easier for some of us because we’ve done it before.  So Debbie, Dwayne, me and Jon have all done it many, many times over the years, but this is the first time that Eric and Kate and Kaleena have done it.  So I’m guessing it was probably a little bit more difficult for them than it was for us – we kinda just remember stuff from past years, so it’s not as difficult.” – Katie McFadzen (The Velveteen Rabbit)

        People that haven’t done the show as much aren’t as familiar with it.

Do you think the grandma was right to take the rabbit away from the boy?

        ✦ “That’s a tough one..” – Katie McFadzen (The Velveteen Rabbit)

        ✦ “I think yes she is right. It comes down to the health of the boy. She doesn’t want him to get sick. That’s her job is to take care of him.” – Eric Boudreau (Nana)

        ✦ “She is following doctor’s orders.” – Katie McFadzen (The Velveteen Rabbit)

        ✦ “In order to do her job she has to take away the velveteen bunny, and while she is sad that she has to do it, she has to look out for him. She wants him to be healthy.” – Eric Boudreau (Nana)

        ✦ “Sometimes you have to make hard choices like that.” – Debra K. Stevens (Narrator)

How does the rabbit feel when he is thrown into the trash?

        ✦  “He’s very sad. He says, ‘What use is it to be loved, and to lose my beauty and become real if it ends like this?’ He thinks it is all over. He thinks his life is over at that point. So, he is pretty sad.” – Katie McFadzen (The Velveteen Rabbit)

        ✦ “Lot of despair, huh?”  – Debra K. Stevens (Narrator)

        ✦ “Yah.” – Katie McFadzen (The Velveteen Rabbit)

I feel real when my mom cuddles with me at night. When do you feel real?

        ✦ “When my dog wakes me up in the morning. He jumps on the bed and tells me it is time to wake up. I like that. And then we snuggle a little bit.” –Dwayne Hartford (Skin Horse)

        ✦ “Well, I kind of talk to my dog.” ~my response

        ✦ “I feel real when I hear audience members applauding and laughing. That makes me feel real.” – Katie McFadzen (The Velveteen Rabbit)

        ✦ “You know. I think anytime I feel really happy, really sad, or really angry…because you feel really strong emotions. I think maybe that is when I feel the most real.” – Debra K. Stevens (Narrator)

What does the Skin Horse mean when he says, “Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby”?

        ✦ “Well, I think what he is trying to say is that the idea for the velveteen rabbit and for him… their idea of being real is when the boy believes that they are real. And so they can only achieve that after a long time where the boy is going to cuddle and hold you, and tromp through the garden with you.” – Dwayne Hartford (Skin Horse)

        ✦ “And then eventually he gets old.” ~my response

        ✦ “Yah.  And things happen, you know, as he gets worn out…” – Dwayne Hartford  (Skin Horse)

        ✦ “You have those experiences.” – Katie McFadzen (The Velveteen Rabbit)

        ✦ “Yes, you have all of those experiences and then become real.” – Dwayne Hartford (Skin Horse)

What do you think Margery Williams, the author of The Velveteen Rabbit, meant when she wrote, “When you are real, you don’t mind being hurt”?

        ✦ “Now that is a very interesting thing because we don’t actually say that in the same way in the play. We say that sometimes that is part of being real. We don’t actually say, ‘You don’t mind being hurt.’ We changed that the very first year [of the performance]. We changed it to say ‘That is part of being real’. You know how your feelings are hurt sometimes? It’s not easy, but it is just part of being alive.” –Debra K. Stevens (Narrator)

        ✦ “It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” – Kate Haas (Nursery Fairy)

        ✦ “It’s one of those ways that you know you are real. You feel things like this and sometimes your feelings get hurt. I don’t know. That is a very hard line [in the book], ‘You don’t mind being hurt.’ I don’t know that there is ever a time when I don’t mind being hurt.” – Debra K. Stevens (Narrator)

        ✦ “It’s an odd way to put it that you don’t mind. It’s more that you are willing to put yourself at risk of being hurt in order to feel the joys.” – Kate Haas (Nursery Fairy)

        ✦ “Yeah, I really didn’t get that line like, ‘You don’t mind being hurt?’ ~my response

        ✦ “Because of course you do. It’s about being willing to take a risk and being willing to have that happen to you.” – Debra K. Stevens (Narrator)

When you are not rehearsing, what do you do for fun?

        ✦ “Puzzles. And sometimes I bring puzzles here for when we are on break.” – Kate Haas (Nursery Fairy)

        ✦ “I eat!  – Jon Gentry (Tin Soldier) 

        ✦ “I like to read.” – Dwayne Hartford (Skin Horse)

        ✦ “I like to knit and crochet.” –Katie McFadzen (The Velveteen Rabbit)

        ✦ “I’m in school, so I have to do my homework.” –Kaleena Newman (Boy)

        ✦ “I like to play soccer and volleyball.” –Eric Boudreau (Nana)

        ✦ “I like to play tennis.” – Debra K. Stevens (Narrator)

        For me, I like eating, too! I don’t know what you like, but if you like oversized furniture and stuffed animals, you’ll enjoy The Velveteen Rabbit.

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Alexander at Conservatory: Rehearsals

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11/22/13 – Week Nine. This week in Conservatory,we went straight to work on our play.  We played a game where we recited words from the play that were memorable to us.  Two people starting saying a line from our play and walked around the classroom, then another person did it, then another until everyone had recited a memorable but different line.  When the boy who plays the teacher shouted out his line, we all sat down.  Next, it was time to run through the whole thing.  We ran through all of the scenes until we got to the end and everyone was familiar with the whole play. Our teachers directed us by putting us in the proper places and helped us think about how to say our lines.  The teachers were satisfied but we did goof around a little during the practice and I think we could have done better.  Everyone was tired after the run-through so Mr. John and Miss Carolyn let us take a break.  After the break, we practiced the whole thing one more time!  It got better that time and we did not goof around as much.  Then Mr. John passed out reminders about going to our final practice at the TCA and told us to make sure to take the stage door and wear actor blacks.  “Actor blacks” means that you wear all black so people can imagine what’s happening and we don’t have to use costumes.  Last week, I interviewed my teachers and Miss Carolyn said that she thought that we were rehearsing well and she is satisfied with our work, though she thinks that we need to focus a bit more. Mr. John said that he was also satisfied and thinks the play is going to be a great success.

We’re looking forward to our performance on December 18th!

Until next time,
Alexander
Childsplay Academy Reporter

Alexander at Conservatory, Week Eight

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11/7/13 – Week Eight.
  First, we played a game like we always do at the beginning of the day, to get active and prepare for our day of acting and movement, and then we got right into scene work.  We practiced the beginning of our sharing which is about a teacher and his students who have to watch a video about science.  One of the girls falls asleep and then she has a dream about science.  Then we became a large talking face that talks about the human body.  Our whole cast creates the human face.  For example, I’m the mouth, which is good for me!  We worked on that for about an hour and then we had a short break.  We then practiced our other scene that would come in the middle of our play but we will put that together next week with a new scene.  I think that our play is coming along well and that we are all learning so much about the parts that go into creating a play very fast, including all of the things that we have to rehearse and memorize.  People should come see this play because it gives you facts about the human body BUT it is also very funny and exciting.  The cast is very nice and would love for anyone to come see it.  Check out my exclusive Rock-the-Presidents blog as a Childsplay Kid Reporter to learn more about plays.  Check out my previous blogs to see if you might want to join Conservatory.  If you are a big thinker or imaginative and creative, then Conservatory is your thing.  You can get recommended into Conservatory after you have taken some camps or classes first.
Alexander
Childsplay Academy Reporter

Captain on the Deck! Alexander Blogs About Conservatory

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10/26/13 – Week Seven.
  This week at conservatory, we talked about our sharing and if anyone had any additional ideas.  Then, we played Captain on the Deck.  Someone is the captain and everyone else is a sailor.  The captain can yell out “Captain on the deck.” Then, we have to salute him or her.  You have to stay in the salute until he or she says “At ease.”  The fun part of this game is that there are things you can do in between, like be a jellyfish by going on the floor and waving your arms and legs up and down, or getting into a group of five and singing “Starfish, Starfish, Starfish…” Or, you can go to an island (to one side of the room) or be in the ocean (when you go to the other side of the room).  The last person to get to those places without running is out.  The fun part is if they say “Captain on the deck” and you salute.  It’s like Simon Says.  The captain gives orders that you have to follow but you cannot do them because you are supposed to be saluting.  If you follow the orders and stop saluting, then you’re out and you just sit out and watch everybody.  We played that game first to get ready to act.  The game helps us act quickly, think faster, and get creative.  Next,  we practiced the first piece of our sharing which is a kid who falls asleep during class and goes to a weird place in a human body dream, since they were about to show a human body video in class.  We spent the whole morning on that, trying to work on coordination, singing, and most of all concentration.  My teachers said that we are going to work on a human body rap next week. 
Alexander
Childsplay Academy Reporter

Stormy’s Review: “Learning to Love – A Rabbit’s Story”

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Are you ready for an adventure? The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is about a rabbit who discovers the true meaning of love. He realizes that life is difficult but that is when friendship finds him and he learns to love in return.

          As you enter the theatre, you will notice how nice and cozy the atmosphere is.  You will feel like you are part of the play. As your adventure begins, you are introduced to Edward. He is the finest of all china rabbits and, unfortunately his self-importance matches his looks. A little girl named Abilene adores him and sings to him like he is real.  Soon, on an ocean voyage, he is thrown overboard and sunk into silence.  In the darkness of the ocean, Edward waits and is rescued from his loneliness.  From life on the road with a Hobo to the arms of a very sick girl, he has many hard lessons and learns that life is full of ups and downs.  When one of his new owners sees him as a girl and puts him in a dress, he is horrified.  He quickly realizes, though,  how much love she has given him and how insignificant his clothes really are. Edward’s journey seems to come to an end when he is literally broken inside and out. He seems to have given up on hope. The ending will give you goose bumps as the miracle of Edward Tulane is finally understood.

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One of the coolest things that I learned backstage was the making of Edward. In the play, seven Edwards are used, each for different chapters in the story. Just like the actors, Edward has his own wardrobe. Baby blue tweed suits, casual evening wear, and even suits for an ocean voyage.  On www.facebook.com/ChildsplayAZ, you can see the making of Edward Tulane in a 3-D computer generated version. I also had the chance to see how the lights worked in the play. A machine is used to change the background settings and sounds. The stage, called a revolver, is used so that it can rotate on wheels.  The “Hobo scene” even uses a pretend fire built into the revolver. In another scene at the beginning of the play, a special lamp shade is used to tell a story. The lamp has different slides built into it, each with a different scene for the story.

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After the backstage tour, I was lucky enough to meet the actors that put this miraculous performance together. Kyle Sorrell (voice of Edward), Kate McFadzen (The Traveler), Debra K. Stevens (The Woman), and David Dickinson, (The Man) each played many roles in this play. Kyle Sorrell, for example, was not only the voice of Edward, but also composed all of the music.  (I secretly know he is a lefty like I am. When you watch the play, see if you can find the musical clue that gives it away.)  David Dickinson also played many different characters. One of the most lovable was The Hobo. While the Hobo chapter in the book was not my favorite, it was one of my absolute favorites in the play.  Mr. Dickinson did an amazing performance under the stars playing his harmonica and also the violin. When I interviewed him, he mentioned this was a miraculous opportunity for him to introduce the violin into the play. Debra Stevens played multiple characters and one that even barks! You will fall in love with “Lucy.” Kate McFadzen narrates and surprises the audience with a unique bedtime story using a lamp and shadow puppets.  It was great meeting the cast and Edward, and for me, these creative ideas are what made this play miraculous.

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Hurry, don’t miss your opportunity to meet Edward and ask yourself what is your miraculous journey!

Stormy Light
Childsplay Kid Reporter

Alexander at Conservatory: Movement Day

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10/5/13 – Week Six.
This week, Mr. John wasn’t here so we had a substitute teacher named Miss Lauren who was my other Conservatory teacher last year. We focused on movement this week. So, first of all, in small groups, we used our bodies to make pictures. Our teachers would say “make a nose” so my group decided to move our hands up and down in front of us to look like we were breathing in and out. Next was eyes and we put our hands up and to down to gesture us blinking. Then, we kept on doing that for about an hour. We shared our ideas for movement with each other (our eyes, nose, etc.) as a class. After break, we got together in even bigger groups and we made the eyes and the nose out of everyone’s bodies together. It was fun because we got to bend and move in funny ways to accomplish that. Finally, the entire class formed a huge group and we made a big face. Some of use were the ears, some were the mouth and some of us were the eyes and nose. Our teachers said that we had done a good job and they could see the picture of the face we were trying to make. We thought it was amazing and fun and we think we might use this in the play.
See you next week on this same blog!
Stay tuned,
Alexander
Childsplay Academy Reporter

Alexander’s Fifth Week – The Human Body Rap

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9/28/13 – Week Five. This week at Conservatory, we wanted to think about what we are going to do for our play. We decided to do a rap. We looked through a few background tracks that would go with our rap about the human body. We chose one because we thought it had body sounds like hiccups and other things. Then we came up with our rapping parts by working in groups and figuring out song lyrics. Then, we shared them and our teachers collected our writing. Next week, we will probably put the words into a song. We worked a long time on creating our rap. It left a little time for a break and a game. After break, we played a game called Potion at the Party where someone is chosen to deliver secret messages. Everyone walks around and shake peoples’ hands. If the chosen person scratches your hand, you pretend to die. The purpose of this game is to learn to focus on one thing and pay close attention to what’s going on. I’m excited for our sharing and the next week of Conservatory!
Alexander
Childsplay Academy Reporter

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