Children's Theater play shows kids how to get un'Stuck'
By Kellie B. Gormly
Published: Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Like a car stuck in the mud, sometimes the harder you try to break free and solve a problem, the more stuck you get.
The results can be comical, like in the play “Stuck” opening this week.
Presented by Pittsburgh International Children's Theater, “Stuck” brings to stage the bestselling, illustrated children's book by Oliver Jeffers, along with recorded original music.
The simple book tells a picturesque story about a boy named Floyd whose kite gets stuck up in a tree. The story revolves around the other things — shoes, a cat, an orangutan, a whale and even the kitchen sink — that Floyd throws into the tree, in an effort to free the kite, that also get stuck.
“Each thing is more outlandish than the last,” says Pamela K. Lieberman, executive director of Pittsburgh International Children's Theater and manager of children's programming with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.
Author Jeffers describes the “Stuck” story “as trying to solve a growing problem by throwing things at it, which we all do, sometimes,” Lieberman says. “It's told from a very humorous standpoint. It really sparks imagination and gets kids to think about creative problem-solving and open-endedness. There are a lot of opportunities to ask, ‘What would you have done in that situation?' ”
Big Wooden Horse Theatre Company, a British group based in London, produces the stage version of “Stuck.” It's the same team that produced the book-turned-play “Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus.”
Lieberman says one of the remarkable traits of “Stuck” stems from the producers' transformation of a very short and simple book you can read in just a few minutes, into a fleshed-out, hourlong play. The play, however, remains simple, with just two actors and a simple stage setting with the giant tree.
Lieberman says kids should enjoy the opportunity to participate in the action during the play, when the actors will ask them for advice about what to do, and ask the kids what they think.
“It's very interactive and very engaging,” she says.
“It's about problem-solving and looking at things from different angles,” Lieberman says.
“Maybe you don't always get things right. ... Those messages are what resonate for me throughout the story.”
Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at email@example.com or 412-320-7824.
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