Recalling her own 70s era childhood…
We sat down with Guinea Bennett-Price, the director of THE SNOWY DAY AND OTHER STORIES BY EZRA JACK KEATS to learn why she loves this collection of stories, and to find out just how a simple pair of goggles might get kids running around.
What is a special talent you’ve brought to the creation and telling of these stories?
I brought the funk to this production! I’m a child of the 70s, and it’s in my bones. I love and remember these stories fondly from back then, so I tried to bring my experience from that time to the feel and vibe of the piece. I’m one of the oldest people [on the creative team], so I was able to bring in the throwback experience of hide and seek…and all the dancing.
Talk about collaborating with DCT to tell these stories?
I always love working with DCT, but this was extra special because of the impact these books made on literature. It’s an opportunity for brown people to see themselves in literature. It was one of the first books I ever had with a kid like me on the front, and it’s important for young audiences to see themselves on stage. Many people could play these roles, but in the casting I tried to be intentional because [Ezra Jack Keats] chose the shade of Peter’s face for a reason, so I looked for that in my lead actor. In the media, you get the idea that lighter skin black people are acceptable and easier to be around, and I wanted the audience to see a brown boy playing and enjoying himself. I was excited to let brown kids see themselves on stage.
Describe your favorite scene in the show.
The Goggles story because it has the most movement. And I love to see Archie and Peter interacting; they’re just two friends with the freedom to run and play in their neighborhood. Kids sit in the house today on their iPhone and there’s no eye contact; and this play shows these kids having eye contact and having fun in their space in their neighborhood. Maybe it will inspire some kids to get out and play. It’s so much fun to see kids dancing and being free and getting up and having a good time.
What is most exciting to you about this project? Why do you think families will enjoy this production?
There’s so much room for imagination if you’ll put yourself in the situation. When you think, “How would I feel at the first snow and getting to go out and play in it,” you get to realize that it doesn’t take things to make you happy; you can actually imagine a world. I love that this play asks kids to look at shadow puppets and imagine them as real. It gets kids thinking about how their lives can be more imaginative.
Guinea Bennett-Price is also the Co-Artistic Director of Soul Rep Theatre Company. Click here to learn more about their upcoming shows.
THE SNOWY DAY AND OTHER STORIES BY EZRA JACK KEATS
Adapted for the stage by Jerome Hairston
Based on the books by Ezra Jack Keats
Music by Victor Zupanc
Now thru Jan. 20, 2019
Ages 3 and up
Oh, the magic of childhood! Follow Peter and his friends as they enjoy the excitement of a fresh snowfall, the delight of whistling for the first time, the awe in finding a special treasure, and the
feelings of a first crush. Packed with humor and fun, this production combines wonderfully innovative shadow puppetry and live action to showcase Keats’ beautiful appreciation for diversity. In fact, his characters ultimately became an inspiration for Sesame Street! An adaptation of Whistle for Willie, Goggles!, A Letter to Amy, and the groundbreaking Caldecott Winner The Snowy Day, this uplifting story collection encourages us to play and live life to the fullest each day.
Get tickets to see the show here.