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Evansville theater offers children a creative outlet

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GINA R. HEINE
April 2, 2008
— When Mindy Roys agreed to sew costumes for this weekend’s production of “Faire Tales of Three,” she was thinking she’d be making about 30.

“I didn’t know it was 90 at the time,” she jokes now. “I think the number just kept growing and growing.”


But it all will be worth it Saturday night when 78 kids from preschool through fifth grade take the stage in fairy costumes of all sorts, including more than 50 sets of wings, the mother of four said.


“I don’t like to know the exact number—it’ll give me an anxiety attack,” she said laughing. “I didn’t start sewing until mid-February. It’s been a long six weeks.”


The play jumps from the pages of children’s books written by local author Shelley Wittman-Bisch. She wrote the play in three scenes, each based on her books, “Faire Tales of Faires,” “Faires of the Rocks” and “Faires of the Gardens.”


The play is set in the land of elementals where each child is a variety of fairy—from pixies to elves—and has a job in keeping the earth clean, Wittman-Bisch said.


The performance is put on by Children’s Acting Theater, a branch of Discovering Youth Arts, a local non-profit, volunteer group that Wittman-Bisch directs.


But no child is turned away, hence the growing number of costumes.


“Each child that tries out gets a part,” Wittman-Bisch said. “I just make up more parts.”


This is the second year of Discovering Youth Arts productions. Last year, 140 kids through eighth grade performed “Twinderella.” But the group had to pay $700 in royalty fees, which helped prompt Wittman-Bisch to write her own play this year.


It’s a group effort.


When a child tries out, his or her family has to agree to help in some way, which is why you’ll find whole families painting scenery. The program also is set up as a mentorship for high school and middle school students to help each other, Wittman-Bisch said. Older kids help the younger ones develop their characters or work on lighting, she said.


The play is funded through an outpouring of support from local businesses, she said. Each child was sent out with information to get sponsors to at least cover the cost of his or her costume. While expenses aren’t totaled yet, it took about $8,000 to put on last year’s production.


“I’ve never worried about the money,” Wittman-Bisch said. “It just comes.”


Given the amount of work and money that went into costumes for the project, she said Discovering Youth Arts plans to perform the play every other year.


Aside from not having to pay royalties, Wittman-Bisch said it’s always easy to find children that want to be fairies and elves.


“It’s the sparkle, the glitter,” she said. “They just love that.”


IF YOU GO

Children’s Acting Theater of Discovering Youth Arts will present “Faire Tails of Three: A Whimsical Tail,” at 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, at the Performing Arts Center, Evansville High School, 640 S. Fifth St., Evansville. A spaghetti dinner will be served at 5 p.m. Saturday to raise money for students going to Panama this summer.


Tickets for the show are $5 for adults and $2 for children in fifth grade and below. Tickets are available at the door and at these Evansville locations: Real Coffee, 18 E. Main St., and Evansville Pharmacy, 19 W. Main St.



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