Valdosta Daily Times

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March 5, 2010

Stone Soup

In theatre, kids learn turnabout is fair play

VALDOSTA — The moral behind Little Actors Theatre’s “Stone Soup” is simple: Girls can do anything boys can do.

Of course, that’s a lesson which Little Actors Theatre has known for quite some time.

With more girls than boys typically auditioning, LAT has learned that it must often cast girls in boys’ roles.

Even in this show, which is supposed to have two girl characters pretending to be male knights, director Diane Tovar had to cast females in roles that were written for males.

“Stone Soup’s” generals, for instance, are traditionally male roles, but girls play three of the show’s four generals.

This is an interesting twist, given theatre’s history.

In Shakespeare’s time, women did not take the stage. Men played all of the roles, male and female. An audience in Shakespeare’s day would have watched men portray both Romeo and Juliet. As for Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth, well, that was no lady.

At times, Shakespearean comedies revolved around a female character pretending to be a male, meaning that a man played a woman pretending to be a man.

Confusing? Perhaps. But Shakespeare had to work with the performers available. Same with LAT.

Little Actors Theatre does have young men participating in its shows, but many plays often have more male characters than female characters.

Diane Tovar has grown accustomed to making these adjustments. She has directed roughly a dozen or so productions since assuming the LAT director’s position in 2006.

With “Stone Soup,” she manages one of the larger LAT casts. Following auditions, Tovar had cast 41 youngsters. That number dropped to 36 in the past several weeks of rehearsals.

“Stone Soup” is an adaptation of the old French tale of a community subtly coerced into helping a hungry group of fellow human beings. This stage adaptation is by Karen Boettcher-Tate and promises a few twists to the old story.

“Stone Soup” includes girls and boys, ages 6-15 years old.

No matter what gender is playing what role, though, LAT maintains its long-time credo: Plays for children by children.

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