GREENSBURG – Monday, May 3, through Friday, May 7, Tree County Players and the Greensburg-Decatur County Public Library are streaming their latest collaboration, “The Young Adult Book Trailers Project.”
A product of some of the most creative talent in Batesville and Greensburg, young and old(ish) alike, the 5 to 6 minute productions are taken from young adult books “Guys Write for Guys Read” by Jon Scieszka, “Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!: Voices from a Medieval Village” by Laura Schlitz, and “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll.
Just like moves are advertised by trailers – short clips that preview major movie releases – book trailers are scenes taken from books presenting the essence of the stories contained therein designed to coax a young reader into reading the entire book.
“We’ve turned snippets from these books into dramatic performances,” said the library’s Lori Durbin.
“Because it’s during the time of COVID, we had to limit the rehearsals to the minimum necessary, and instead of performing them live, which is still taboo, they’re being presented online like our first show of the pandemic, ‘Virtually Yours,’” said TCP’s Nancy Porter.
Two veterans of live performce, Porter and Durbin are also veterans of children’s theater, and that experience came in handy for this TCP outing.
“We couldn’t rehearse a lot, the children had to all memorize their parts at home on their own before rehearsals started,” said Durbin.
“Which means we were especially thankful for a super-talented cast!” finished Porter.
Auditions were held for the trailers late in spring, and then the actors – Wade Schutte, Henry Schutte, Ethan Miller, Jake Sullivan, Sophia Sullivan, Lauren Richards, Drake Ertel, Remus Filice and Toccoa Filice – had to start memorizing.
In the interim, Durbin and Porter, along with makeup master Devin Morgan, costume mistress Donna Swinford and videographer Brady Domingo, started planning the blocking and the set layouts for each scene.
“Reading is a very engaging process,” said Porter. “It involves the brain in a process that takes all of one’s senses, and the impression of the book, how the characters and places look, there’s no one to create that for you. It’s your very own that no one can take from you. Our job was to take these three scenes. We’ve all seen versions of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ from movies and drawings, but for the other two trailers we had to create the entire picture from ground up, just like for any other play that TCP does. That’s what is fun about this, and our actors were just wonderful!”
Durbin added. “Some of these kids are very mild mannered and shy, but when they’re in the theater setting, that’s where the magic begins.”
Durbin and Porter relayed the story of the actor playing the part of the Mad Hatter in the tea party scene from “Alice in Wonderland.” Drake Ertel is a well mannered and somewhat quiet boy who was also cast in the children’s play “Winnie the Pooh,” which was the last live show TCP did before the pandemic.
“It’s like Drake had to give himself permission to act out the Mad Hatter, and when he does he lights up and becomes a very vivid and intriguing Mad Hatter. He did that as Christopher Robbin as well,” said Porter. “That’s why people who’ve been in theater performances love the experience. It’s an environment where one is allowed to become someone else – strange, funny, quirky – whatever they feel like doing, and they won’t be judged. That’s very liberating, and that’s why theater is always such a great experience for kids as they grow.”
Viewing “Book Trailers” is free at the TCP website www. treecountyplayers.com and on the Facebook page for the Decatur County Greensburg Public Library.
Funding for “Book Trailers” was provided by a Decatur County Community Foundation Small Projects Grant.