There’s something about a children’s story by Robert Munsch that never fails to capture the imagination of a child. Having been refined through countless retellings to young children, Munsch is mainly an oral storyteller, who has put his stories down on paper so that children around the world can enjoy them. Now, thanks to the playwriting efforts of Irene Watts, children can also adapt Munsch’s best-loved tales into drama with the help of Munsch at Play: Eight Stage Adaptations for Young Performers.
The eight selections are drawn from Munsch’s best-known works, his classics: Angela’s Airplane, Stephanie’s Ponytail, Mortimer, 50 Below Zero, Mud Puddle, Millicent and the Wind, Murmel, Murmel, Murmel, and The Paper Bag Princess. If you’re a Munsch fan like myself, it’s hard not to get excited just reading the titles of the plays that have been written for young children to act in.
Teachers and parents may find themselves wondering if the title price is worth it. My answer, you just have to see the joy in the face of a child physically moving through a Munsch story – it’s a joy to behold.
Not only are children introduced to the rudimentary elements of stage acting: characterization, stage directions, props, costume, audience participation etc. but they have a familiar base to draw from; familiar stories they’ve heard time and time again. Even a four-year-old can get involved when cast as the Mud Puddle for example, and given helpful prompts.
Accented with familiar illustrations from Munsch’s stories, each book is cast for between four and seven main actors (including a narrator), but casting suggestions are also given creatively so that most or all of a large school class (or homeschooling co-op) can get involved in the action.
In Angela’s Airplane for example, there are many parts created for actors to play parts of the airplane, in Millicent and the Wind any number of children can be cast as village children, and so forth. We normally end up playing Mud Puddle because it only requires four actors.
Helpful suggestions for staging, set design, props, and costumes are provided along with the full script for each eight to ten minute play, complete with stage directions. Plays can easily incorporate miming to substitute for props and costume.
Normally when my young children want to do a play, we just grab the book and wing it – who needs an audience? These plays can be simple and spontaneous, or meticulously planned and executed. The plays include permissions for free, not-for-profit performances, but if tickets are charged for, permissions need to be sought from the publisher.
Bringing Munsch’s stories to life through drama is incredibly fun and I highly recommend Munsch at Play for any class or family who wants to introduce drama through these familiar, and well-loved tales.