Monday, May 20, 2013

Flory, the Fearless Night Fairy

by Kelly L. Miller

About the Author

Laura Amy Schlitz (book author, The Night Fairy) has spent most of her life as a librarian and professional storyteller. She has written several books and won the 2008 Newbery Medal for Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village.  She lives in Baltimore, where she is currently a librarian at the Park School.

Author Laura Amy Schlitz
Schlitz has also worked as a playwright, a costumer, and an actress. She has written several plays for young people that have been performed at professional theaters all over the country including Stage One (Louisville, Ky.), Pumpkin Theatre (Baltimore, Md.) and Children's Theatre Association (Baltimore, Md.).

Author Laura Amy Schlitz, on her interest in fairies:
“I have always had a soft spot in my heart for fairy stories. When I was a child, I stared at pictures of fairies with rapture and fascination. I could imagine my way into these pictures, making myself small. I know that there are children who can still do this, because I work in a school library and little girls come to me every week, asking, ‘Do you have a book about a fairy?’ They don’t want a fairy tale; they want a story with a fairy as the main character. They want to gaze at fairy pictures and think themselves small, alive in a dewy jungle of flowers.”

Learn more about the book, The Night Fairy and its author.
Have you ever met a fairy without wings? Or one who could not fly?  Flory is a young night fairy, who loses her beautiful, gossamer wings one night after an encounter with a ferocious bat.  Dropped into a strange land—a garden, tended by a mysterious human “giant”—Flory must learn quickly how to survive and fend for herself. 

Flory is tiny, but she’s fierce.  And she sets out to collect food and enlist animals in the garden to help her. Determined to live as a day fairy, Flory makes a wren’s house her home—then strikes a deal with Skuggle, an irascible squirrel who’s always hungry.  She promises him food in return for rides across the garden—to help her befriend a beautiful, mysterious hummingbird.

All the while, Flory practices her magic.  Night fairies are born with the seeds of magic spells in their minds.  Spells that come to them when they need them most—“stinging” spells to fight off danger and “seeing” spells to find things.

But Flory will need more than magic to defeat the vicious predators who threaten to harm her.  She’ll need compassion, kindness and the help of her newfound friends if she ever hopes to fly again.

Playwright John Glore adapted The Night Fairy for the stage from Newbery Medal-winner Laura Amy Schlitz’s beloved book of the same title.  Director Oanh Nguyen is employing an exciting mix of puppetry, projections and sound design to create the giant world of Flory’s garden and animal friends on stage.

Nguyen has assembled a wonderful cast of actors/puppeteers for The Night Fairy including Catherine Adell, Sol Castillo, Moira MacDonald, Nicholas Mangiardo-Cooper, Jonathan C. K. Williams and Emily Yetter.  His stellar design team includes Sara Ryung Clement, sets and costumes; Matt Schleicher, lights and projection design; Dave Mickey, sound and projection design; Beth Peterson, puppet design.

We hope you’ll join us at South Coast Repertory to meet Flory—a fierce and fearless fairy, unlike any you’ve seen before.  Who knows?  You might learn a magic spell or two.

Set design for "The Garden" by Sara Ryung Clement

The Magic of The Night Fairy
An Interview with the Playwright

Playwright John Glore’s adaptation of The Night Fairy is a fun, magical, theatrical story for kids and adults, alike. With rehearsals underway, we asked him a few questions about Flory, the fairy, and his favorite magic—both onstage and off.

What was it about The Night Fairy—and Flory—that inspired you to adapt it for the stage?  What grabbed you and wouldn’t let go?

Two things about this story made me want to adapt it for the stage.  My imagination went wild thinking about what the world would look like to a tiny fairy.  Everything would be huge—the plants, the animals, the lady in the house.  I started thinking about how we might create those giant animals using various kinds of puppets, and that was an exciting idea.  But also, I love that the story centers on a small, lonely, vulnerable girl (Flory, the fairy) who finds the courage and the intelligence to survive against terrible odds.  And she learns some things about friendship along the way.

Magic spells come to Flory as she grows older—a stinging spell, a seeing spell.  If you could have one magic spell, what would it be?

I think I’d like to have a magic spell that would make time slow down, or even stop.  I never seem to have enough time to do everything I want to do and to spend with the people I want to be with.

Raccoon puppet
There are so many exciting bits of theatrical stage magic we’re using to create the world of The Night Fairy—puppets, projection, and sound.  What’s your favorite, so far?

I’m excited about all of it, but especially the spider and the raccoon puppets.  The spider is big and a little scary-looking, but it’s also beautiful.  And the raccoon’s head is as big as the front end of a Volkswagen.  It takes four people to work the raccoon puppet, because he’s so big.

What is it about writing plays for children that brings you the most joy?

I love writing plays for kids because I like remembering what used to entertain me when I was a child.  The secret about adults is that most of us are still kids inside, and we still like a lot of the things we liked when we were children.  So when I’m writing a play for young audiences, as long as I entertain and amuse and thrill the kid inside me, I can be confident I’ll do a good job entertaining the kids in the audience (and the grown-ups who remember what it’s like to be a kid).  Also, kids make for a very honest audience—they let you know right away if they’re bored, by getting restless, fidgeting in their seats, even making little noises, and you know they’re NOT bored if they’re sitting still, on the edge of their seats, listening to every word and eagerly waiting to see what will happen next.  And there’s nothing better than hearing kids laugh at something funny.

John Glore has also adapted The Stinky Cheese Man and A Wrinkle in Time for SCR’s Theatre for Young Audience series. When he’s not writing plays, Glore is working as SCR’s associate artistic director.

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