TROY - The members of the Troy University Pied Pipers, a popular theater-for-youth performing ensemble sponsored by the Department of Theatre and Dance, will perform Thursday, March 8, in Chattanooga, Tenn., through a selection and invitation process in the Theatre-for-Youth Festival at the Southeastern Theatre Conference, the largest theatre conference in the United States.
"The performance will be a colorful, fast-paced, acrobatic, humorous, and visually engaging telling of some well-known children's stories," said Dr. David Dye, Professor Emeritus of Speech and Theatre and the group's founder and creative director. "The beauty of performing for children in grades K-3, our target audience, is that the children get to be involved in the performance. They become willing partners in the performance as they get to help save the day when a villain is about to do some terrible deed. A Pied Pipers' performance also helps expose young audiences to how the magic of theater can transform a written text into a performance the children could never have imagined, and all without scenery, props, or character costumes. The squeals of delight from the children when the big bad wolf chases the pigs, is worth all the time and discipline that goes into perfecting the 50-minute performance."
The Pied Pipers cast was selected through audition in August and toured schools in the Columbus, Ga., area during the fall semester. They prepared for the SETC showcase through an adjudicated performance with Ms. Rachel Briley, director of the MFA theatre-for-youth program at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, and Ms. Tonya Hays, performing arts director for the Wings Discovery Center in Gulfport, Miss.
The Troy University Pied Pipers began in 1970 with its first performance at Troy Elementary School. During the following decades, the group reached a peak with sixty performances a year in elementary schools around the state, in north Florida, at arts and crafts festivals, and at libraries. When the university moved from the quarter system to the semester system with a loss of prime touring dates outside of regular classes, the group discontinued its touring.
With the inauguration of the Department's First-Year Initiative program in 2006, the group was brought back into action at the request of Ms. Adena Moree, Director of Theatre, to provide a strong ensemble experience for freshmen, to provide an opportunity for a systematic introduction to the University and to the theatre discipline, and to aid in the University's retention efforts. Equally important is that members of the ensemble learn early about giving back to the community through quality fine arts performances aimed at the youngest elementary- age students, Dr. Dye said.
Based on the Italian Renaissance commedia dell 'arte, with stock characters, highly specialized bits of business, extreme physicality and a revolving repertory, the Pied Pipers Ensemble was re-established as a professional group over the last two years by Dr. Dye and Ms. Moree.
"The vivid, enthusiastic, highly physical, and very endearing characters continue to come to life in performances to the delight of children, families, and a legion of our graduates," said Moree.
Cast members are Colin Cahill of Madison, Mary-Catherine Chambliss of Cataula, Ga, Jacobi Hall of Huntsville, Kara McDowell of Pelham, Amanda Lewis of White Oak, West W.V., Connor Murphy-White of Greenville, Judith Roberts of Decatur, Quade Sewell of Stone Mountain, Ga. and Matt Thompson of Enterprise.
For additional information about performances, please contact Ms. Adena Moree, Troy University Department of Theatre and Dance.