Sunday we said goodbye to Rumors, our summer comedy, and, immediately began tech for our final show of the summer season - Lillian Hellman’s underproduced American classic The Children’s Hour. It’s always thrilling to say goodbye to one show and immediately usher in the next. Out with the lava lamps and slamming doors of Rumors, in with the pencils, books and teacher’s dirty looks (it’s set in an all-girls boarding school, after all) of The Children’s Hour.
The rehearsal period for The Children’s Hour has been a complete blur for me personally as it overlapped with the roll-out of our new summer arts camp, Art In Action! Thrilled as I was to work alongside our terrific teaching artists (summer company members Emma, Gillian, Taylor, Erika and Emily,) and bring our exciting new curriculum to the kids of our St. Croix Valley community, I was simultaneously in Children’s Hour rehearsals, taking on probably the most emotionally taxing role I’ve ever done.
On one hand, it was a huge help! My character Martha, after all, is a teacher who is around students 24/7. It helped me get the most appreciation out of lines like, “Maybe I am [taking it too seriously]… But you spend all your time around kids and you won’t know what to take seriously either!”
But something I’ve encountered again and again (and the inspiration for this blog post) was the recurring question from camp parents “What’s up next at the theatre? Can we come see you in a show?” And I immediately choke up! I mean, the show is after all called The Children’s Hour. Surely it’s something our campers and their parents can enjoy together. Right?? The title, named for the Longfellow poem of the same name, sounds perfectly innocent!
One thing for sure - this is NOT a children’s play. It’s a drama. And it is NOT appropriate for children under the age of 12. However. I do feel this show is EXACTLY the kind of play we need to be watching with our kids. Especially those 12+ who are starting to grapple with mature issues.
Now, my qualifier - I am not a parent. Parents, please know that I defer to you! You are aware of things that I, until I am in your shoes, cannot imagine. But hear me out: I do work with kids - many kids over the past 10 years. Which means everyday I am reminded of what it’s like to be a kid. And the difficult themes in this play? Themes like bullying, gossip, lying, peer pressure, manipulation, exclusion, sexuality and suicide? Your kids want to talk about them.
A show like The Children’s Hour is a special opportunity to explore, in a safe place with a theatre you trust, topics that are otherwise difficult to talk about. Directed by our wonderful Artistic Director Jaclyn Johnson, starring members of our staff, summer company, and a large number of community actors - you know us. We’re a part of your community here. Let’s have a conversation.
The Children's Hour opens this weekend - Sat August 12 - with shows Thursday, Saturday and Sunday until August 27th.
Tickets are available here.
And we do have a kids show coming up!! Our Youth and Family Series show Children of Mystery River is right around the corner - Sept 8 - Sept 17. Tickets are available for purchase now.