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Design Elements in JUST SO STORIES

JSS show artElsie Kipling and her friends are using their imaginations to act out stories about animals in far-off lands. Not too different from how children have historically played–using furniture and blankets and other found objects to become the scenery of their world.

A good theatrical design needs to take the context of the play into account, and create a world which seems effortless and inevitable. In the case of The Just So Stories, the director first had to decide how the characters in the play would interact with the stories:  would they obviously be children pretending (and letting their child-character show through) or would they, when acting out each story, become fully invested in their animal-character?

(This is not an unusual dilemma. Any time there is a “play within a play” we need to ask these questions. An O. Henry Christmas two years ago required similar decisions to be made.)

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Working “In the Round”

Lorraine 2–A guest post by afO guest director
for The Just So Stories,  Lorraine Knox

Theatre “in the round” has been, well, around for millenia, dating all the way back to ancient Rome. Although proscenium stages (stages framed at the front by a large curtain, which can be closed) are the “norm” in contemporary theaters, many stages have been built specifically for in-the-round performances, including the nearby Wagon Wheel Playhouse in Warsaw, Indiana. Many other theaters have the ability to be configured in the round at times. The PPG ArtsLab, afO’s new home stage, is one of those theaters.

The term ‘in the round’ is a bit of a misnomer.

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Introducing JUST SO STORIES’ director…and family!

Guest director Lorraine Knox
Guest director Lorraine Knox, in a recent glamour shot which seems very apropos for this play!

Introducing…..a familiar face, in a new role!  Lorraine Knox is certainly no stranger to all for One. She first appeared as Abigail Adams in our productions of American Primitive (2004 and 2008). Our audiences have also seen her as Madeline in Women of Lockerbie, the Great-Grandmother in The Princess and the Goblin, and most recently as Mrs. Johnson in last season’s The Music Lesson.

This season I am thrilled to have Lorraine as our guest director for The Just So Stories. I knew Lorraine would bring a fresh creative vision and energy to this piece. What I did not expect was that she would bring her entire family with her!  Here is Lorraine’s own explanation of how this show has become “A Family Affair”:

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The Just So Stories

JSS show art


We are getting excited about our annual “for the whole family” show.  The Just So Stories is the title of a collection by Rudyard Kipling, a British writer from the Victorian era, perhaps best known as the author of The Jungle Book. The Just So Stories are all fanciful “origin” tales, such as “How the Camel Got His Hump”.  all for One’s production is an adaptation by Joseph Robinette which begins with Elsie Kipling, the author’s daughter, awaiting her parents’ return from India. She decides to act out some of the stories her father has written, with the help of her new friends. Five of Kipling’s tales will be featured in the course of the play–which also tells us a bit more about Elsie and her family.

The stories (Kipling’s original titles) being acted out are:

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About the hymns used in BEND US

hymnbookAs musicals go, Bend Us is unusual in a number of ways.

  • It is a near-even mix of historically accurate hymns, mostly sung a capella, and contemporary compositions sung with an accompaniment track.
  • The first act contains mostly solos, one duet and one trio; the second act has several ensemble numbers.
  • The music is used primarily for emotional impact rather than to move the story along.
  • The scene in Act 2 called “Transformations” is entirely underscored, is 17 minutes long, and employs 45 light cues! About a dozen different hymn tunes are played or sung during the scene, which shifts from chapel singing, to newspaper reporter Awstin interviewing individuals about the revival, to scenes featuring an increasingly angry and critical Rev. Peter Price.

Here is a list of the hymns you will hear during the play:

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