62 years and going strong, the Heights Players of Brooklyn are once again offering Saturday matinee theatre for families at the John Bourne Theatre. With their second round of performances this Saturday, November 18th, and more promised later in the season, we had the opportunity to talk to Heights director and member, Hillary Goldman. She also happens to be the co-playwright and author (along with Kevin McAuley) of AWAKE, playing Saturday, November 18th at 12 & 2PM.
Q: Tell us about AWAKE. I am curious as to what the story is about and how's it interactive?
Hillary Goldman: AWAKE is the story of Sleeping Beauty (Princess Rose) after she has been woken up from the spell that put her to sleep for 100 years. Once awake, all she wants to do is go back to sleep, instead of deal with the hassle of the everyday, like going to school, cleaning her room, and doing chores. And so, she sets out on a journey to become re-enchanted and go back to sleep so that she can return to what she knew. With the help of her fairy godmothers, a mysterious sorceress, and a few new friends along the way, Rose puts everything on the line to accomplish her goal. But she might just realize that some adventures are worth getting out of bed for.
In terms of being interactive, the audience is asked to either come onstage and be a part of the show, or to do so from their seats! They may be asked to help Princess Rose act out her magical dreams, help light her way through a dark cave with glow sticks (which they get to take home with them), or just sing and dance right from where they are sitting. We try to cater to the fact that while some kids may want to jump onstage and have a dance party, others may prefer to do so from the audience. This way, everyone gets to participate.
Q: What's the perfect age for audiences to enjoy AWAKE?
Hillary Goldman: We like to write our shows for everyone, ages 2-100! While the participation aspect is definitely geared towards ages 2-10, the show is written on two levels, allowing grown-ups to enjoy it as well.
Q: AWAKE is an original play! That's wonderful. Tell us how you created it and why your wrote it.
Hillary Goldman: When I look back on growing up, I don't believe that I had a plethora of strong female role models presented to me. I watched movies that featured women who, for the most part, were driven by romance in some shape or form. I believe that it gave women my age a slightly warped sense of what it meant to be a strong, independent person, who was capable of living a full, well-rounded life that was driven by her passion for something other than a relationship. When you think of Sleeping Beauty, you instantly think of a princess who needs saving. That always bothered me - why did she need a man to break the spell? Why could no one else do it? In Awake, we tell part of the story of Sleeping Beauty, but without the romantic aspect. In our story, Sleeping Beauty's fairy godmothers are the ones who break the spell. Sleeping Beauty is the one who decides to go out on an adventure, and she is the one who creates her own destiny. Additionally, I think it's fun to take characters we know and love, and put a positive, updated spin on them that helps make them relatable to kids now.
We also like to think about what message we want to send these kids home with. We have been given a platform to connect to people, specifically young impressionable kids. That is a gift not to be handled lightly. Children are the most important people in the world, and everything they see, they absorb. What are we telling these kids? What are we putting out there for them and their families? Kids go home and talk about what they see, so let's give them something really inspiring and encouraging to talk about.
Q: You also direct at the Heights and are working with the theatre for young audiences program. Tell us about that and what to expect this season?
Hillary Goldman: We have a wonderful group of actors that have been working with us for almost 4 years now, consisting of a lot of Brooklyn teachers from area elementary and middle schools. We try to reach out to as many schools as possible to help bring awareness to our program. We do two Theater For Children productions every season, and our next production will be in April. This will not only be another original work, but will also include participation. Additionally, I will be directing Seussical at The Heights, which will be a great family-centric musical, featuring the beloved characters from the Dr. Seuss books we all know and love. It will run from February 2nd - 18th.
Q: Have you written other plays? What other works do you have that we can know more about?
Hillary Goldman: Kevin and I have collaborated on five children’s shows: Snow White and the Battle for Pittsburgh, The Mad Hatter's Tea Party, The Great Christmas Tree, and Cinderella, Or A Godmother’s Tale - all of which include participation. We are excited to continue to bring young audiences new stories, and ultimately, hope to help ignite a passion for the arts along the way.
Tickets are still available to tomorrow's performances for only $6. Make your reservations now by emailing Theater for Children with your name, number of tickets and date and time of the performance you wish to see.
firstname.lastname@example.org or you can visit the box office 30 minutes before curtain.