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Welcome to the Arden Theatre Company blog, where we share behind-the-scenes stories and current happenings with you. You will hear from the Arden staff as well as actors and other visiting artists, and we hope to hear from you, too. If you have an idea for a topic, please post a comment about it. We can't wait to hear what you think!

By Dajah Dale
Grades 5-8

This is a finalist in our Pinocchio Creative Response Contest in collaboration with Philadelphia Stories, Jr. From August 5-16, leave a comment on this post or like the link  on our Facebook page to vote for this entry to win a prize!

Tolya
By Catherine Mosier-Mills
Grade 9-12

 

In the fading light of the setting sun, Luka Yeshevsky sketched a face.

Luka drew the model’s lips, so carefully pursed around a smoldering cigarette, aligned to the curves of his chin. His pencil marked the contours and peaks of the quaint little nose, which rested plainly above the philtrum. He even captured the sagging lines beneath his model’s eyes, no doubt a result of the weary journey from St. Petersburg to Petrushka.

But his hand was having difficulty with the eyes. They were a tempest, he noted, because the gray flecks in the brown mirrored a summer storm. Their shape was odd: cat-like, and squinted, with creases and folds in places there normally weren’t.

His model exhaled and watched the smoke drift up to the rafters.

“Eyes down, would you?” Luka reprimanded, reaching for his eraser. “I’m not finished yet.”

The boy smirked, his mouth molding into a lopsided grin. “Sorry.” He placed the cigarette back in his mouth and took a puff. “I’ve been sitting here for a while. It’s quite hard to keep myself from getting restless.” Another breath, except this time, he thrust open the small side window and let the smoke escape into the August fog.

Luka took a moment to glance out the open window. It was the time of eternal twilight, the unsettling period in midsummer when the sun, much like an incorrigible child, refused to sleep until the fading hours of the night. It wouldn’t be black until eleven-thirty. This meant he had more light to work by, but it also meant another night racked by insomnia.

Curse the impossible eyes! He wiped away his most recent attempt at an eyelash. If he weren’t a perpetual perfectionist, he would just leave them out. But he was. So the picture had to look perfect.

“I didn’t mean to complain,” the model apologized, crossing his right leg over his left. He seemed quite aware of Luka’s frustration. “I lied. I like this. It’s relaxing. Petrushka is a nice break from the city.”

Luka grunted a response, his fingers rubbing in the shading beneath the eyes.

“I hadn’t even heard of this place before,” the boy continued. “It’s quite different from St. Petersburg. I’d imagine the people here are very humble, yes?”

“Some.” Luka blinked and lifted his pencil to the finely-combed hair, which he intended to capture in wispy fragments as opposed to the cartoonish strands his instructor was so fond of mocking. Most of the people here were simple folk—fishermen, retired farmers, church men—but he’d never bothered to get to know them. “It’s not uncommon to dislike Petrushka. Why should you like a town named after a marionette, anyway?”

The model gestured for an ashtray in which he could dispose his cigarette. “Any village seems comforting compared to where I grew up. Are you going to color in my face?”

Luka begrudgingly fetched the ashtray from the side desk and handed it over. Ordinarily, he didn’t speak more than a word to his creations, and when he did, it was a direct command: sit straight, eyes forward, for the love of God, stop slouching.  “Only charcoal. Where did you grow up? Eyes up, please.”

The model obediently lifted his eyes but said hesitantly: “I’m not entirely sure of its name.”

“You said you were from Kiev when you answered.”

There was an awful pause. The youth shifted uncomfortably. “Perhaps…” Then he buried his face in his hands. “Oh, I lied, Sir. I’m an orphan.”

Luka set down his pencil. “Oh. How sad.”

“My parents died of typhus when I was young, so I was brought to the orphanage by a stranger.” He set the ashtray on the floor. “My mind caused me trouble, so I made trouble.”

Luka stopped for a moment. “Oh?”

“The fat old village doctor proclaimed that I thought frightful things. Overwhelming for a boy of my ‘tender age.’”

“What ideas did you think?”

He licked his lips. “Well…I’ve never confessed this before, because it’s odd. Marxist things, you know. I recited Engle before I’d memorized my Latin. One prospective couple asked me to sing them a beloved old Bible verse, and you know what I did? I said ‘religion is the opiate of the masses.’”

Luka glared at him. “They must have been horrified.”

“Oh, yes,” the boy said, “The Headmaster kicked me out onto the streets shortly after. And then I answered your advertisement, because I’m starving and should find a bride soon.”

“Ah, yes, my advertisement,” Luka echoed, hoping the conversation would shift back to something less blasphemous. The model seemed wholly unaware of the gilded crucifix nailed to Luka’s doorway. “The ‘Common Man.’ It’s a little project I’m going to submit to a gallery.”

“Where is the gallery?”

Luka hesitated. If the boy found out, he would probably rip the portrait to shreds and begin to spew Bolshevik banter. But another glance at the cross reminded Luka of his sin: he should not lie. “Peterhof.” He quickly coughed into his sleeve so the boy wouldn’t have time to process the location. Perhaps he was unaware of the Czar’s summer residence. He was uneducated after all, wasn’t he?

Not a glimmer of recognition passed his eyes. “Oh. What a lovely town. Perhaps I’ll visit it when I have money for train fare. May I see the painting?”

Luka turned back to the infernal eyes. It was odd, he thought suddenly, how the two-dimensional portrait of this stranger had transformed into something much greater—much more real—than a boy on a page. He was proud of his creation.

“What did you say your name was?” he asked.

The model smiled. “I didn’t. It’s Tolya.”

“It’s funny,” he remarked, inscribing the name on the top. “Portraits often reveal what the ordinary face does not. They reveal truth and dispel lies.”

“Then it is not a sketch of a face,” Tolya responded. “It is a real face.” He smiled. “It is Tolya.”

 

This is a finalist in our Pinocchio Creative Response Contest in collaboration with Philadelphia Stories, Jr. From August 5-16, leave a comment on this post or like the link  on our Facebook page to vote for this entry to win a prize!

By Walker Anderson
Grades 5-8


This is a finalist in our Pinocchio Creative Response Contest in collaboration with Philadelphia Stories, Jr. From August 5-16, leave a comment on this post or like the link  on our Facebook page to vote for this entry to win a prize!

Toddlers for Breakfast
By Shanyah Holt
Grade 3

Hippo was looking for his breakfast. He likes to eat toddlers for breakfast. Hippo is always greedy. He is careless.

One day Hippo was looking for his friend Pinocchio. Pinocchio is a wooden boy. Pinocchio’s nose grows every time he lies, and that is often. He always says, “I am wooden, you cannot defeat me!”

Suddenly, they were hiking and found a frozen boy. Hippo said, “We will eat like kings!”

But the boy was frozen. Then, Hippo fell asleep.

Pinocchio got an idea. “I will smash the ice with my head.” Next, Pinocchio smashed his head so hard on the ice.

Hippo woke up and said, “Where am I? Am I dead?” They ate the frozen boy for lunch and went to go look for dinner.

In the end, that night, they wished upon a star, and wished to be invisible.

When they woke up, they said, “Yes, our wish came true!” They went to eat all the people in the world.

 

The End

This is a finalist in our Pinocchio Creative Response Contest in collaboration with Philadelphia Stories, Jr. From August 5-16, leave a comment on this post or like the link  on our Facebook page to vote for this entry to win a prize!

Pinocchio Poem
By Magda Andrews-Hoke
Grades 9-12

Through his fingers in the dark he sees ticking clocks.

through wooden fingers

timeless limbs

he hears the tick of time passing in the shop

of his false father.

He senses the passing of time

tick tock and tock tick

and the click clack of wooden fingers, >case

shutters for his wooden eyes

 

In the nighttime no one can see the difference between here and there

or floor and ceiling

or wood and flesh

He wishes to hear the soft rubbing of flesh fingers over flesh face

Soft rubbing is more comforting in the dark night than

                        click clack                               click clack

 

He lies and says he likes himself

just the way he is, he says

He lies and says wood is flesh, flesh is wood, family is family

He lies and says he does not need others made of click and clack

But he likes trees

He lies. He lies. He lies.

 

He believes in God

He does not believe in a flesh God

and this reassures him

But he does not believe in a wooden God

but one of miracles and goodness

He thinks that if he wishes hard enough                just hard enough

He will hear the rubbing of soft fingers on face

as he cowers in the dark of the wooden shop

and this miracle

would be from God

to whom he would never lie


This is a finalist in our Pinocchio Creative Response Contest in collaboration with Philadelphia Stories, Jr. From August 5-16, leave a comment on this post or like the link  on our Facebook page to vote for this entry to win a prize!

Benjamin Potatohead
By Ella Spencer
Grade 5-8

Behind the sloping hill, >medical the one with sandy patches of grass and rabbit holes, yellow dandelions and light purple wildflowers, there was a village. The tiny village was a merry place with colors everywhere: on kites sailing the sky, little toys that bounced and made noise, on the doors of small houses built into the ground. A stream gurgled under a sturdy wooden bridge.

The people of this little town were very unusual. They wore strange hats: propeller hats, beach umbrella hats, bowling pins, chef hats, and other headwear. Some wore hydrangeas or bowling pins on their heads. They spent all day outside, inventing games and activities, also going to school in the red schoolhouse on the other side of the creek.

“A lovely town,” said a resident in her Ferris wheel hat. “But that boy, Benjamin Potatohead…he’s no good.”

“I’ll live here forever!” said another, sporting a monkey hat, with arms that Velcroed around the neck. “But with Benjamin causing so much trouble, I don’t enjoy it as much.”

“I try to play with Benjamin,” said a child, “but he only steals my toys and laughs at me.”

Mr. and Mrs. Potatohead had lots to deal with. They loved Benjamin, but he caused all the trouble he could muster in the village and their house, a giant hollowed out potato.

Benjamin was light-ish brown with little holes for his rubbery arms, eyes, and other body parts. His parents looked almost identical to him, but they were larger. Mrs. Potatohead wore a white felt hat with a daisy, and Mr. Potatohead’s was a black top hat. Benjamin had an eraser hat and was so poorly behaved that you probably can’t imagine how misbehaved he was. He had a remarkable quality: when he lied, his nose popped off, and it only would fit back on once he told the truth.

One sunny morning, Benjamin woke up ready to cause trouble. The moment he awoke on his mushy potato peel bed, his fingers tingled and his eyes sparkled, ready for a day of utmost madness.

His mother ushered him off to the schoolhouse and watched him enter, but Benjamin snuck out the back when no one was looking. He stole ice cream and went swimming, plus peed in the stream. Then, he went to the gingerbread house and ate every gumdrop and peanut butter cup. Satisfied, he burped loudly and proceeded to rip flowers out of the ground.

“Oh, kibbets!” cried Benjamin, dropping several uprooted daffodils as he looked in the direction of the giant potato. Mrs. Potatohead was fetching the mail. Darnit, thought Benjamin. I forgot to bury the mail.

Mrs. Doodropping was walking by the Potatohead house, carrying a basket of strawberries. She stopped to chat with Mrs. Potatohead. Benjamin rubbed his rubbery hands together, an unmistakable sign of trouble ahead.

Benjamin bounced from house to house, hiding behind mailboxes. Finally, he reached his own and snuck up behind Mrs. Potatohead.

“…ashamed of Benjamin?” Mrs. Doodropping was asking. “My poor Charlie never has good things to say about him.”

“Benjamin is a troublemaker,” Mrs. Potatohead agreed, “but he is a child. That’s what kids do.”

“But he wreaks havoc in the village,” protested Mrs. Doodropping. “That is not alright. Charlie, for instance, never causes an ounce of trouble—”

Benjamin made his move. Quick as lightning, he ripped his mother’s heavily lip-sticked mouth from its hole and tore down the path, her muffled voice attempting to scream at him.

“Well, I never!” huffed Mrs. Doodropping as she wheeled and rushed down the path in the opposite direction. “What nerve! Stealing somebody’s mouth!”

Benjamin chuckled as he stuffed Mrs. Potatohead’s lips into his pear-shaped body. They rattled around as he gobbled Mrs. Doodropping’s stolen strawberries—even if potatoheads don’t eat.

Yes, Benjamin was naughty. Wherever he went, a surprising amount of trouble followed. Nothing would stop him.

One day, though, when Annie Fergusen’s house caught fire, people were glad Benjamin was there to help.

Annie was always a perfect girl. She did well in school and pleased everyone except Benjamin, who wasn’t fond of girls. Annie was cute, but like a little doll: rosy cheeks and lips, curly golden hair, and petite dresses with white stockings. Too clean for Benjamin; he was the muddy type.

Benjamin was yanking a girl’s hair when smoke started to drift over the village. He knew the smell of smoke from the time he set a teacher’s dress on fire. He began to rub his dirty hands together and even let go of the girl’s ponytail to see what was happening.

The little people of the town were fetching buckets of water and hoses to put out the Fergusen’s house. Benjamin ran to his mother, who had recently shaken her mouth out of his potato body.

“Linda Fergusen was cooking eggs and forgot the pan was on the stove,” said Mrs. Potatohead.

“Awesome!” cried Benjamin. Mrs. Potatohead gave him a stern look.

Out of the house stumbled a panting Linda Fergusen followed by her husband. Annie did not appear.

Moments later, Benjamin heard weeping. The townspeople ceased tossing water.

“We can’t find Annie,” explained Mr. Potatohead gravely.

Benjamin rubbed his hands together. This, though, was not a gesture for trouble. Instead, it was an idea.

“WAIT!” he screamed. “I think I can save Annie.” All eyes turned to him doubtfully, expecting his nose to pop off. Benjamin, the major troublemaker? Benjamin, save Annie Fergusen?

But his nose stayed put. Benjamin grabbed his eye and ripped it off his head, which is perfectly fine for a potatohead to do. Then, he threw it through a window.

“Annie is in her room!” he yelled as the eye landed on Annie’s carpet to see the girl unconscious. Her father climbed up and heaved her out the window, wheezing.

Benjamin Potatohead still remained a troublemaker of the worst kind, stealing and playing hooky. But from that day on, nobody forgot his cleverness, when he saved Annie Fergusen from what everyone thought was her finish.

 


This is a finalist in our Pinocchio Creative Response Contest in collaboration with Philadelphia Stories, Jr. From August 5-16, leave a comment on this post or like the link  on our Facebook page to vote for this entry to win a prize!

By Yeogyeong, Grade 9-12
This is a finalist in our 
Pinocchio Creative Response Contest in collaboration with Philadelphia Stories, Jr. From August 5-16, leave a comment on this post or like the link  on our Facebook page to vote for this entry to win a prize!

 

The Flower Nosed Sleeper
By Ashley Hoernig
Grade 5

Once upon a time there was a doll named Pinocchio and he lied A LOT!

Whenever he lied his nose would turn into a flower. But… when his nose turns into a flower he sees a shooting star so he can make a wish. The wish he always made was to be able to sleep because he could not sleep on his own. So whenever he got to sleep it made him very happy. When Pinocchio would sleep his flower nose would die and turn back to normal. So when his nose was fully back to normal he would awaken from his sleep. That would make him very mad and whenever he got mad he would talk it out with his magical pet goldfish that could talk and that would make him feel much better. When he felt better he would lie again and his nose would turn into a flower and he would see a shooting star so he can make the wish to sleep and when his flower nose died he would get mad and talk to his pet fish again. This would just keep going on and on because he lied. One day he could not lie. He could not lie because he ran out of lies! So when he ran out of lies he just started walking in the little village and he came across a hobbledehoy

which is an awkward young fellow. They both started talking to each other but instead of Pinocchio lying he was talking truthfully. When they were done with their conversation that was of course about a rainbow because Pinocchio loves rainbows, a rainbow suddenly appeared right in front of him and he could touch it and sit on it. So he climbed the rainbow and on the other side instead of there being a pot of gold there was a camel. He was scared of camels so he ran back. When he got back he was really tired so he went to talk it out with his goldfish. His pet understood very much how tired he was. So the fish finally revealed that he was a wizard in disguise to look like a fish waiting for the day to come for Pinocchio to talk truthfully and that day was today! When he finished saying how he could grant wishes Pinocchio said well since you’re a wizard can you make me be able to sleep without having to lie? The wizard said no because he said Pinocchio had to find all the people he lied to and apologize to them. Pinocchio said ok. Pinocchio went into the village to apologize to all the people he lied to, after he apologized to all the people he lied to he went back to the wizard and asked if he could grant his wish so he could sleep on his own. But the wizard said NO! The wizard said no because Pinocchio has to do one more task to get his wish granted and the task is that he has to do two good deeds so again Pinocchio said ok. So he rushed off to the village to do his two good deeds. When Pinocchio was walking around in the village he found a sign on a restaurant that said “HELP NEEDED”. So Pinocchio thought I should go see what they need help doing and help them and that will be my first good deed. So he went inside and asked the manager what they needed help doing. The manager said what I really need help doing is cleaning this place up. Pinocchio could see that by the looks of the place. Pinocchio said I could help what do you want me to do? The manager said could you clear the tabletops? Pinocchio said sure. When he finished he asked the manager if he needed any more help he said no and thanked Pinocchio for helping out. When Pinocchio walked out he officially had one good deed done and one to go. As Pinocchio was walking around he came across a man finishing some food. When suddenly the man fell to the ground. Pinocchio quickly found a phone and called 911. The ambulance soon came and thanked Pinocchio for saving this man’s life and they rushed the man off to the hospital. And that was his second good deed done. When he got back to the wizard Pinocchio asked him if his wish could be granted. And the wizard said yes. Pinocchio was relieved because he was so tired but the wizard said on one condition and that was if Pinocchio never lied again. Pinocchio said yes and that was a promise. So Pinocchio got his wish to be able to sleep on his own and he fell fast asleep. And that’s the story of how Pinocchio finally got to sleep without having to lie.

The End.    


This is a finalist in our Pinocchio Creative Response Contest in collaboration with Philadelphia Stories, Jr. From August 5-16, leave a comment on this post or like the link  on our Facebook page to vote for this entry to win a prize!

Pinocchio’s Legs

By Cecelia Barron
Bancroft Elementary School, Kennett Square
Age 9 (Grade 4, Sept. 2013)

 

Once upon a time, there was a nice little girl.  Her name was Monica.   And Monica wanted a friend.  When Monica was going shopping, she passed a toy shop.  The toy shop had a bunch of handmade dolls.  But one caught her eye in the window.  It was a newly polished doll with a happy smile.  So she went in the shop and asked the strange shopkeeper if he could take the doll out of the window.  He nodded and took it down.  “You know, “ said the shopkeeper, “When I made the doll I called him Pinocchio.”  “That’s a nice name,” Monica said, “and I would like to get it.”  “Fine with me,” the shopkeeper said as he looked at the price tag.  “Six fifty,” he said.  She gave him the cash and happily left.

“Pinocchio,” she thought, “what a nice name.”  She rushed home and showed her mother.   “Look what I got at the toy shop today, mom!”  “I saw that thing out of the window of that store,” the mom said.  “Oh isn’t he gorgeous!” Monica said.  “No!” the mom said, “It’s a filthy, horrible, ugly doll that I would never want to see ever again!”  “Oh mother!” Monica said, “Can I keep him for just two weeks?”  “Fine, but only two weeks,” the mom said.  “That ugly little doll,” she murmured under her breath.  So Monica went upstairs to where her pet parakeet was.  She named her Lily.  “Oh Lily,” Monica said, “Mom said I can only keep him for two weeks!”  But Lily was frozen.  She was in love at first sight.  “Um, Lily?” Monica said.  “Hellooo?”  “I’m here! What? Where? When? Why? How?” said Lily.  Then Lily eyes caught eyes on the doll again.  “Oh isn’t the doll so handsome!”  “Um Lily,” Monica said, “You’re not getting the point!  Mom said I can only have him for two weeks!…….”

“I have a plan!” said Lily.  Lily’s plan was to go to the toy shop, ask the shopkeeper to make a doll that looks exactly like Pinocchio, and they would throw away that one but keep the other one secretly to make it seem like she had no doll anymore.  So they set off on their journey.  They went to the toy shop, got a new Pinocchio and went back home.  But there was something strange about this “Pinocchio.”  He had longer legs than the old Pinocchio.  The new Pinocchio knew Lily and Monica’s plan.  He surprisingly said, “I don’t want to be thrown out!” and started whimpering.  “You can talk?” Monica said.  “He can talk!” Lily exclaimed.  “No I can’t!” said Pinocchio without realizing that they obviously knew he could speak.  “I can’t talk!” the new Pinocchio said.  But when he said this his legs got one inch longer.  Lily and Monica didn’t move.  Their eyes were still in disbelief.  “You’re obviously lying to us, “ Monica said.  “No I’m not,” the new Pinocchio said, still a little grumpy and sad.  Monica signaled for Lily to come to the corner of the room.  “That’s it!” she quietly said to Lily.  “When Pinocchio lies his legs get longer, we shouldn’t throw him out!” “Plus, he’s more handsome!” Lily said.  Lily loves dolls.  Two weeks later, they threw the old Pinocchio out instead of the new one that could speak.  He lied a lot but made a promise he would never lie to them again.

 

THE END

This is a finalist in our Pinocchio Creative Response Contest in collaboration with Philadelphia Stories, Jr. From August 5-16, leave a comment on this post or like the link  on our Facebook page to vote for this entry to win a prize! 

For our production of Pinocchio, >buy we are partnering with Philadelphia Stories, ., a local literary magazine for writers 18 years and younger.  From now through June 30, you can enter our Pinocchio Writing and Art Contest!

Here’s how:

  • See the Arden’s production of Pinocchio, on stage from April 13-June 23, 2013, about a wicked wooden boy who trades his schoolbooks for candy and plays hooky at the amusement park. His rebellion has serious consequences, but he is able to redeem himself by saving his father Gepetto from the whale.
  • Reimagine Pinocchio’s story through an original poem, short story, or work of art. Your original work can consider questions such as: What is your character made of? Where does your character live? What does he look like? What lies does your character tell and why does your character tell them? What act of bravery must your character do to earn forgiveness? Have fun with these questions, or feel free to make up your own ideas!
  • Submit: Children in grades K-12 can send their contest entries by June 30, 2013 to the ONLINE SUBMISSION FORM. Please complete all fields and add the words “PINOCCHIO CONTEST” to your title or email psjrcontest@gmail.com with any questions. Stories must be no longer than 1000 words. Poems should be no more than 36 lines. Photos of any kind of appropriate artwork will be considered.
  • The editors of Philadelphia Stories Jr. will pick 9 finalists, 3 from each grade category (K-4, 5-8, 9-12). The finalists will be published in the online edition of the Fall/Winter 2013-14 issues of Philadelphia Stories Jr. and on the Arden Blog.
  • 3 Grand Prizes: Readers can visit the Facebook pages for the Arden Theatre Company and Philadelphia Stories Jr. to vote for their favorites. One winner from each grade category will be named on September 1 and notified via email. Each winner will receive a $50 cash prize, a one-day workshop at the Arden Drama School, a Pinocchio T-shirt, and publication in the print issue of Fall/Winter 2013-14 issue ofPhiladelphia Stories Jr.
  • All 9 Finalists will win 4 tickets to the first show of the Arden’s 2013/14 Children’s Theatre season!
©2009 Arden Theatre Company, 40 N. 2nd St., Philadelphia, PA 19106. For tickets, call 215.922.1122.
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