[00:00.00]Listen to a conversation between a student and a professor of her theater class.
[00:04.93]Student: So, Professor Baker, about our next assignment you talked about in class.
[00:09.62]Professor: Yes, this time you'll be in groups of three, each of you will have a chance to direct the other two in a short scene from a play you've chosen yourself.
[00:17.58]Student: Right, and, well, I've been reading about story theater, and…
[00:22.21]Professor: Ah, story theater, tell me about what you've read.
[00:25.07]Student: Well, it's a form of theater where folk or fairy tales are acted out.[00:29.68]It was…eh, introduced, by the director Paul Sills in the 1960s.[00:35.14]In Sills's approach, an actor both narrates, and acts out a tale.[00:40.13]So, like someone will appear on stage, and then will start narrating a tale, about…say a king, and then the same person will immediately switch to and start acting out the role of the king, with no props or scenery.
[00:53.02]Professor: Sills, you know I actually saw his first story theater production in 1968, he did the fairy tale ‘the blue light'.
[01:02.49]Student: Really, so whatever gave him the idea to produce that?
[01:05.87]Professor: Well, as you know, back in the late 1960s, lots of people in the United States were disillusioned with the government.[01:13.46]Sills was grappling with how to produce theater that was relevant in such times.[01:19.66]Then he happened to read ‘the blue light', and he realized that it had just the message he wanted.
[01:24.85]See, in the story, a man has lost all hope as a result of the unfortunate events in his life, completely turns his life around, with the help of a magical blue light. [01:36.02]So,the blue light in the story symbolizes a way out of seemingly unsolvable human problems.[01:42.57]And for Sills, that light symbolized an answer to the political turmoil in the US.
[01:48.35]Student: But weren't you…um, audiences bother that the actors were performing on a bare stage?
[01:55.32]Professor: Well, story theater is a departure from traditional dramatic theater with its realistic elaborate props and scenery, but Sills could make us see, say a big tall mountain through the facial expressions and body movements of the actors, and they're telling of the story.
[02:12.86]We were all swept up, energized by such an innovative approach to theater, even if one or two of the critics weren't as enthusiastic.
[02:21.98]Student: Cool, so, anyway.[02:24.97]What I really wanted to ask, I'd love to try doing story theater for my project instead of just a scene from a traditional play.
[02:31.88]Professor: Um, that's possible.[02:34.66]A short tale can be about the same length as a single scene.[02:38.10]Which fairy tale would you do?
[02:39.78]Student: Actually, I was reading about another director of story theater, Rack Stevenson.[02:45.11]You know, he produces plays based on folk tales as well.[02:48.34]Maybe I could direct one of those.
[02:50.25]Professor: Okay, yes, Rack Stevenson.[02:54.24]Now, Stevenson's style's story theater is a little different from Sills's.[02:59.49]He'll use simple props, a chair will represent a mountain, but the significant difference is with the narrator.[03:06.83]The narrator will play only that role.[03:09.86]Let's talk about why.