Perpich News

Perpich Arts High School Theater Ensemble presents “Weird Nightmares”

December 10, 2021

Perpich Theater Ensemble presented Weird Nightmares, a dramatic presentation of four Hans Christian Andersen stories (The Deep Bell, Most Incredible Thing, The Red Shoes, and Little Match Girl) and the lyrics to Charles Mingus’ song Weird Nightmares on Thursday, December 9, 2021. The students played multiple roles and provided narration. The show is characterized by the use of simple visual scenery arranged to suggest various settings, props, and costume pieces in different ways in more than one story.

In the 1960s, a man named Paul Sills worked with a group of actors and used the improvisational theatre techniques created and documented by his mother, Viola Spolin (Improvisation for the Theatre) to dramatize several of Grimm’s Fairy Tales and Aesop’s Fables. Mr. Sills documented their work and scripted it into a play called, simply, Story Theatre.

This play, which had a Broadway run in 1970-1971, is a great example of a creative and entertaining genre of theatre. Here’s how the Perpich Ensemble adapted Hans Christian Anderson stories as Story Theatre:

  • Viewpoints worked to build improv skills, improvised characters, discovering and developing relationships onstage, and improvised scene and group work. The class focused on getting participants out of their heads and into the body, active listening, and exploring each moment and movement onstage.
  • Viewpoints is a philosophy translated into a technique for (1) training performers; (2) building ensemble; and (3) creating movement for the stage.
  • Viewpoints is a set of names given to certain principles of movement through time and space; these names constitute a language for talking about what happens onstage.
  • Viewpoints are points of awareness that a performer or creator makes use of while working.

This form of theater usually requires high-energy, exaggerated performances. The entire Perpich Acting Ensemble often remains onstage throughout the performance, playing roles, singing songs, moving set pieces, making sound effects, and reacting to the events of the dramatized stories as they happen.

Because of the many characters in this Hans Christian Anderson collection, these stories can accommodate large casts of actors or small casts who play multiple roles. Perpich Acting Ensemble uses these Story Theatre conventions as a way to transform the texts that they read into dramatizations.