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The Eastern Echo

Hare and Tortoise

“Hare and Tortoise” brings the art of theater to children

Show times are Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. and Nov 11 at 10 a.m. The play is an extended version of "The Tortoise and the Hare" and aimed at children in pre-K through second grade.

Eastern Michigan University's Theatre for the Young program will be performing their latest play “Hare and Tortoise” at Sponberg Theater on Nov. 10 and Nov. 11.

Performance times are at 7 p.m. on Friday and 10 a.m. on Saturday, tickets are $6 a person.

The play follows the fable “The Tortoise and the Hare." Tortoise and Hare are two friends. Hare wants to race Tortoise, who keeps making Hare wait. The story takes place over a year with the set getting altered depending on the season. Each season has a storyline and accompanying song. 

The play’s target audience is children in pre-K through second grade. It has a run time of 50 minutes. 

“Something we really focus on is making sure that our artistry for children is still at the highest, like it is still art and we're giving them the same respect that we would an adult show because they're kids. They're just, you know, they're people,” Meredith Murphree tour manager said.

The play’s purpose to bring the art of theater is clear throughout the show, particularly in its use of props, live music, and the chorus’s active role.

The props are impressive and sure to delight children. PVC pipes are used for trees and each season has a prop that goes into them, usually an umbrella. A few props have special effects such as confetti hidden in umbrellas to create snow, and a box that launches fake butterflies, making them appear to fly and flutter.

The play takes the message of the original fable and translates it into a longer form. Throughout the play, Hare learns patience through a series of trials and tasks, such as helping Tortoise with spring cleaning or going on summer vacation.

The play is also touring local elementary schools and libraries including Abbot Elementary, Hamburg Library, Jackson Montessori, Bates Elementary, Wines Elementary, Wegienka Elementary, Eberwhite Elementary, Brick Elementary, and Country Elementary. The tour began on Oct. 27 and will end Dec. 8.

“Hare and Tortoise” was previously performed by Theatre for the Young in spring of 2023. 

“We already had a set, we already had costumes, we already had props. So we just got to spend a lot of time having fun and digging into the world and I think that really came through in this production that we just got to relish in, like, trying things a million times to find the specific best way… you normally don't have the luxury of having that amount of time,” Olivia Allen the assistant director said.

The goal of this program is to tour plays for children so they can be introduced to theater as an art form. EMU students are welcome for auditions or tech support, no matter their major. The Theatre for the Young program has been at EMU for over 50 years. It also offers two degrees and a minor.

“It's a big legacy for our department and a way to bring theater into the community in a way that provides access to students who otherwise wouldn't get to see theater,” Emily Levickas, the director, said.

For the show, the program received a grant from the Michigan Arts and Culture Council and the National Endowments for the Arts.

To learn more about the play and program, visit Theatre for the Young’s official Facebook page. To learn more about touring, visit their website. To learn more about the program and its studies, visit EMU's website.