Dallas Children's Theater Blog

Astonishing Kids And Families With The Fun of Broadway-Like Plays and A Lot More!

EAT (IT’S NOT ABOUT FOOD) IS about these people…

At DCT, we are fortunate to have community partners to work with when we are producing shows that deal with a specific medical or social issue. As a result of those relationships, we were able to interview a few experts in the area of eating disorders as we prepared for our Teen Scene production of EAT (IT’S NOT ABOUT FOOD) by Linda Daugherty. Only one of our interview participants, however, chose to become an expert in the field. For the other two interviewees, they candidly told us about their very personal run-in with the disorder. I wanted to share a few of their main points You may notice some consistencies. I know I did.

The Elisa Project right here in Dallas is a grassroots non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention and treatment of eating disorders. Their Executive Director, Kimberly Martinez, sat down with us to provide some insight:

KIM: It’s really through behaviors that you’re able to identify eating disorders; just being aware of them, and what they look like. It is something that culminates over time from depression, negative body image, low self-esteem, other self-harming behaviors…but parents don’t usually see it coming.

Bradley Evans is a high school student who is now keenly aware of how close he was to a serious medical crisis due to his eating disorder. He shared some details of his experience with us:

BRADLEY: My dad was military, so we moved around a lot. I was probably about twelve or thirteen-years-old when I started getting into trouble with eating disorders. I was under a lot of stress. I think we had just moved and I was having a hard time making friends. I didn’t feel like I could really talk to anybody. I started to feel alone, and I guess I just started eating less and didn’t take care of myself so much, and eventually it got so bad I was going four or five days without food or water. I was just so weak I could barely even stand.

I guess I didn’t know anything was wrong until my parents started noticing. They tried to help me get back on track, but I couldn’t figure out how to stop the behaviors.

Steven Dunn is a successful lawyer and a good father. His daughter Morgan was a good student with good friends and a selfless spirit. This past October, Morgan lost her life after a seven-year battle with an eating disorder. He shared his story with us:

STEVEN: Her very good friends, for lack of a better word, ratted her out to us. They told us that she was beginning to go to the restrooms after they ate lunch at school; she was a little bit distracted. She came home, and on the surface, she was pretty much the way she was, but her friends told us these issues are going on.

Eating disorders is this insidious monster that comes into your household. It takes the person, and it sinks its claws into them, and it lies to them. It isolates them from their friends, their school, their loved ones, and keeps them in the dark. It isolates them. For us, that was the best way for us to identify this and try to get it, not only out of her life, but out of our lives and all of her friends’ lives as well, because it has this way of expanding and pulling everyone else in. It only has one goal, and its goal is to kill.

KIM: Eating disorders are life-threatening. Your mind becomes malnourished, and you’re not able to function the way that you normally would. From heart attacks and strokes, to not being able to jump and run and have friends, eating disorders really take over your life. And it’s not just the young people who may suffer from the illness, but it’s their entire family who suffers from an eating disorder.

Those are hard words to hear, especially for parents of young kids. Of course, the more we learn the better off our children and our families will be. Bradley offers some practical advice for those suffering and for those who want to help, and our experts offer some hope.

BRADLEY: If you’re struggling, it’s so important to reach out to someone and let them know that you feel trapped and out of control. If somebody you know is closing themselves off to relationships, reach out to them and say, “Are you okay? Is everything really okay?”

STEVEN: There is hope. I urge people to get to it in time, to pay attention. You can recover, but you’ve got to put your life into it, because if not, you may lose.

KIM: There is hope, of course, yes. Recovery is so, so possible. It’s something that you totally could recover from, so that’s the good news. Many people with eating disorders feel a sense of guilt and shame about having an eating disorder. As long as you keep it secret, you are gonna be sick. The minute you tell somebody, you’re on the road to recovery.

EAT (IT’S NOT ABOUT FOOD), a play by resident playwright, Linda Daugherty, ran at Dallas Children’s Theater from February 10-19, and is part of a series of plays focused on issues teens and those who love them face.




Two Directors are pulling the strings on JACK AND THE BEANSTALK

It takes two to make a thing go right, and it takes two directors to make sure puppeteers disappear out of sight and completely into the background in Kathy Burks Theatre of Puppetry Arts’ production of JACK AND THE BEANSTALK. We chatted with Doug Burks and Sally Fiorello, the show’s co-directors, about this rendition of the fairy tale and more before opening. Read on…

Describe JACK AND THE BEANSTALK from your perspective.

Doug Burks: It was one of the first fairy tales I remember as a child. There was a picture book that I had as a child, and then I remember the iconic Mickey Mouse film.

Sally Fiorello: That’s what I was going to say! Mickey Mouse and the Beanstalk, which is a beautiful, beautiful animated feature that I loved. The Giant scared me as a kid, and in that cartoon, he was certainly a little bit scary. I think I really believed there were giants when I was a kid.

Describe JACK AND THE BEANSTALK using three words.

SF: Magic, fantasy, adventure.

What do you like most about JACK AND THE BEANSTALK?

SF: I love the growing of the beanstalk. And the interaction with Goldie the Hen and all the characters.

DB: Yeah, Goldie is kind of our scene stealer.

SF: I also like the addition of the Man in the Moon to the typical Jack and the Beanstalk story.

DB: That idea was inspired by the old Sue Hastings script that we have, because that’s the way they did it. They had that character in it.

SF: And we WAY expanded on it. He’s got a song and a whole scene with some starlettes. If there had been more time when we first dreamed it up, his storyline could have been expanded even more.

What kind of experience are you trying to create for audiences?

SF: I think it’s an adventure story first. Jack is certainly setting out on a journey that is an adventure – climbing a beanstalk way up into the sky – and then he sees the Giant. I think we are taking the audience on a sort of fantastical trip that they can’t take themselves on in their everyday lives. When I was a kid, fairy tales figured prominently into my entertainment, whether it was my mother reading me a story or seeing Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, now people sort of forget about them.

DB: So the experience we’re trying to create for our audience is a classic fairy tale, the way they used to be.

What is it like being a director?

DB: It’s kind of a daunting task, having to be responsible for every single element. But at the same time, it’s incredibly rewarding.

SF: There are certainly different problems with directing a puppet show versus one of our shows where live actors are front and center. Knowing what puppets can do as opposed to what people can do, and what the style of puppetry can accomplish is different; there’s a lot of different variables.

DB: What’s different about the way we work, too, is that oftentimes, our company will voice a character and puppeteer that same character. But we also have to hire other actors to voice certain characters. It’s just a different set of skills that puppeteers/actors have to incorporate.

How have you seen theater change someone’s life?

DB: Well, it changed my life! As a child, I often felt very introverted and shy, and it wasn’t until I got into theater and performing that I overcame a lot of that. It taught me to express myself.

SF: It absolutely taught me to express myself, and aided in my education. It opened my mind up to wanting to know more, because it gave to me in a way that was dramatic or exciting or compelling, as opposed to a teacher saying “na na na.” It was like a world that was suddenly in front of me, and I wanted to be a part of that.

Why are you interested in children’s theater?

DB: The arts and theater in education can be very, very valuable, whether you choose a career in the arts or not. We must continue to build, not only the future artists, but the future audiences as well.

SF: As with all of the arts, theater makes a complete person. I believe when the arts are missing, we lose empathy. We lose what being a human being is all about. We become something else, and I worry about the kind of human that will exist if the arts are just kind of pushed by the wayside.

Describe a memorable moment you’ve had at DCT.

DB: Well they all involved the audiences, their responses. An audience full of children is often so much more honest than an audience full of adults. The feedback is so immediate; they’re less likely to censor themselves.

SF: If they think something’s funny…

DB: They’re going to laugh. If they don’t like something and get bored, they’re going to start talking. You know when they’re not paying attention.

SF: There have been so many times when people, when kids especially, have been so enamored with what they’re seeing and that feels really, really good.

DB: I first was an actor at DCT in 1989, so I’ve also worked with a lot of children that have come through our productions. That’s kind of a great thing to work with an actor as a child, and there are many of them now that are grown that I get to work with again as adults. Like Katy Tye.

SF: When he was here did you work with Montgomery Sutton?

DB: Yeah, Montgomery Sutton, there’s just too many to even remember. These kids that I worked with when they were seven-, eight-, nine years old, and then I get to work with them again as adults.

What’s your favorite children’s story and why?

DB: Winnie the Pooh. I could really relate to those characters; sometimes I could relate to Eyeore, sometimes to Pooh. I can just really relate to that story of how our childhood toys and friends will always kind of stay with us.

SF: That’s beautiful, Doug. It probably would go back to certain movies like Bambi, for me. I liked Bambi so much because I am such an animal lover. One more recent movie that is also a play that I love is Babe, the Sheep Pig. I think that story shows the nobleness of animals, and why we should respect them. It’s so humorous and so loving. It’s full of wonderful life lessons.

Kathy Burks Theatre of Puppetry Arts’ JACK AND THE BEANSTALK runs March 3-26, 2017. With shows during Spring Break and on the weekends, there’s plenty of time for you to climb up the beanstalk with Jack. Visit dct.org for more information about the tickets and show times.