Our current Arden Children’s Theatre production is an adaptation of E.B. White’s beloved book Charlotte’s Web. Many audience members ask: How does a book become a play? Well, writer and professor Joseph Robinette turned White’s book into the theatrical version you see on our stage. This past weekend, Dr. Robinette came to the Arden to see the show (along with many of his family members!), and gave us these amazing letters between himself and Mr. White. This gives us a small and fascinating insight into Robinette’s adaptation process. Give ‘em a read and see the adaptation on stage at the Arden through February 12!
By Christopher Haig,
Props Slops Master
Sure, there was a full dinner for twelve in August: Osage County. Yes, it’s true they ate (fake) horse meat in The Whipping Man. But the finest dining on the Arden stage so far this season, has to be Wilbur’s slops – all 7 buckets-full actor Aubie Merrylees enjoys during each performance of Charlotte’s Web.
The slops went through several stages of development before reaching the final product seen onstage now. At the beginning of rehearsals, the cast was supplied with a wheelbarrow of fake foods pulled from our prop storage. Fake vegetables, fruits, sandwiches and other faux food made of plastic, rubber and foam made up the first slops.
Through rehearsals, director Whit McLaughlin decided what was working and what was not. One of his overriding concepts on the production was the use of real things over fake things. We aimed to avoid the usual children’s theatre prop versions of things.
In light of that design choice, it became apparent that the large fake foods were not right. Our next step in the research and development of the slops was to create fake items that looked more like leftovers instead of whole pieces of fruits or vegetables. We pulled leaves off some of the faux foods and made fake skins and other debris. While this looked closer to the real thing, it still didn’t seem right.
During the last week of rehearsals, we took a giant step closer to the right answer when we realized we were missing the secret ingredient – SLOP JUICE.
Once we started using liquid, the slops themselves needed to look less like newer, whole pieces of food and more like half eaten, decomposing food. So we changed the faux food out for random chunks of foam. Combined with the slop juice this looked really gross, but had a few problems. First, the chunks of foam looked like foam too much to pass for any type of food product. Secondly, we had concerns about Aubie putting his face into a mixture of liquid and foams that may not have been the most “nutritious” shall we say. Wilbur is also supposed to eat an apple right from the slops so we needed to find a way to make them safe and edible.
The answer came to us during the tech rehearsals and was fairly simple considering all the previous steps. The simple decision was to use real food – big green and red leaves of cabbage, green tops of carrots, potato and carrot peelings and some celery. When you add these things to the murky slop juice, you get the perfect recipe for Pig Slops.
SLOP JUICE recipe
- 2 qt. water
- 1/3 cup coconut milk
- 8 drops of warm brown gel food coloring
- 5 drops of blue food coloring
Mix all ingredients in a pitcher. Stir. Pour into 5-gallon bucket over your favorite leafy greens and leftover vegetable skins.
Serve up to the little piggy in your barn.
By Courtney Riggar, Production Manager
If you have seen Charlotte’s Web, then you have seen Charlotte’s amazing aerial feats in the show. Since Sarah Gliko, who plays Charlotte, had no previous experience at this type of work we enlisted the help of Howard Kanner, owner of Go Vertical climbing gym. Howard functioned as our Stunt Coordinator to make sure that all of Sarah’s gear was safe and that she was properly trained to handle all of her stunts. Through the process Howard got to come and work in the Haas and climb all over the catwalks here, and as part of that he got to know us pretty well and vice versa.
As a way to celebrate our work together and the opening of the show Howard invited us to come to his gym for a little climbing, so he could show us how it’s REALLY done. I took some photos to document our fun time there and I thought I’d share them with you!
The Arden celebrated the opening night of Charlotte’s Web on Saturday, December 3 by turning the lobby into a state fair! We welcomed community partners Tyler Arboretum, with an interactive spider display, the Garden State Discovery Museum, who helped transform kids into farm animals with fun face painting, and the Pig Placement Network, stealing the show with a live potbellied pig named Bubbles. As kids completed crafts and activities, they acquired stickers which eventually earned a blue ribbon! Kid-friendly food and beverages were provided by Chef’s Market and Hatboro Beverages. After the show, families enjoyed ice cream sprinkled with bacon bits, courtesy of The Franklin Fountain.