3751 Wiregrass Road New Port Richey, fl 34655

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3751 Wiregrass Road

New Port Richey, FL 34655

Phone: (727) 312-3272
Email: stagesprd@aol.com

Website: www.stagesproductions.com

An Educator’s guide to:

"I'll prepare a test, the old queen said,

I will pile twenty mattresses upon her bed,

Hidden in those mattresses, will be one tiny pea,

If she does not sleep a wink, then a true princess is she."

Join the Queen, the Prince and the entire royal court as they learn the meaning of true love. This new musical adventure by STAGES PRODUCTIONS is performed in the classical commedia dell 'arte style. It is filled with all the charm of the original Hans Christian Andersen story along with enough humor and toe-tapping songs to keep any princess awake!


Throughout the study guide, this symbol means that specific Sunshine State Standards are being addressed that directly correlate activities to FCAT testing.

Let us concentrate for a moment on a vital part of youth theatre: the young people. Millions of youngsters attend plays every season, and for some the experience is not particularly memorable or entertaining. The fault may lie with the production - but often the fault lies in the fact that these youngsters have not been properly briefed on appropriate theatre manners. Going to the theatre is not a casual event such as flipping on the TV set, attending a movie or a sports event. Going to the theatre is a SPECIAL OCCASION, and should be attended as such. In presenting theatre manners to young people we take the liberty of putting the do’s and don’ts in verse, and hope that concerned adults will find this a more palatable way of introducing these concepts to youngsters.

By Peggy Simon Traktman
The theatre is no place for lunch, But if you like something you clap

Who can hear when you go “crunch?” Actors like to hear applause.

We may wear our nicest clothes If there is cause for this applause.

When we go to theatre shows. If a scene is bright and sunny,

Do not talk to one another And you think something is funny

(That means friends or even mother) Laugh- performers love this laughter

When you go to see a show, But be quiet from thereafter.

Otherwise you’ll never know Don’t kick chairs or pound your feet

What the play is all about And do not stand up in your seat,

And you’ll make the actors shout Never wander to and fro -

Just to make themselves be heard. Just sit back and watch the show.

So, be still - don’t say a word And when the final curtain falls

Unless an actor asks you to… The actors take their “curtain calls”

A thing they rarely ever do. That means they curtsy or they bow

A program has a special use And you applaud, which tells them how

So do not treat it with abuse! You liked their work and liked the show.

Its purpose is to let us know Then, when the lights come on, you go

Exactly who is in the show Back up the aisle and walk - don’t run

It also tells us other facts Out to the lobby, everyone.

Of coming shows and future acts. The theatre is a special treat

Programs make great souvenirs And not a place to talk or eat.

Of fun we’ve had in bygone years If you behave the proper way

Keep your hands upon your lap You really will enjoy the play.

Hans Christian Andersen

Hans Christian Andersen was born in Odense, Denmark, in 1805, the son of a cobbler and a washerwoman. Despite his background and lack of education, Andersen’s father encouraged his son’s early interest in literature and drama. At the age of 14, Andersen convinced his mother to allow him to seek his fortune in Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark. A combination of determination and good luck led him to become first a singer and actor, then a dramatist – although an unsuccessful one – and finally a writer. His first book, aptly entitled Youthful Attempts (1822), sold just seventeen copies (with the remaining 283 being sold to a grocer for use as wrapping paper). But after extensive travels throughout Europe gathering material, his novel, The Improvisatore, was published in 1835 and was an immediate success. His Fairy Tales Told for Children, which appeared in the same year, was not immediately appreciated. But as he wrote more tales, his genius became internationally recognized, and within his lifetime he found himself acknowledged as the pre-eminent master of the fairy tale. Andersen broke new ground by writing in the language of everyday speech and he had a unique ability to read his stories aloud and to act them out.

Hans Christian Andersen described his own life as a fairy tale: an uneducated boy from a poor family who was to rub shoulders with aristocrats and kings, and a shy adult who rose above his shortcomings to hold children spellbound with tales that have continued to enthrall generations ever since. Certainly it was the stuff of make-believe.

The qualities contained in the universe of Hans Christian Andersen are of inestimable value and during this bicentennial year of his birth, should be celebrated throughout the world. His genius lies in the fact that he has something vital to convey to children and adults alike. His writings contain universal truths about human nature and psychology, crucial to the development of every individual.
To learn more about Denmark’s favorite son, visit:



Facts About Fairy Tales

  1. Fairy Tales connect us with earlier generations who enjoyed the same tales.

  2. Fairy Tales help us think about present situations we find ourselves in.

  3. Fairy Tales can inspire readers to create original works of art.


Bruno Bettelheim
In this day of heightened sensitivity to the effects of culture (both classical and popular) on the psychological development of young people, the fairy tale has come under scrutiny by many concerned educators, parents, and psychologists. Many feel that fairy tales enforce negative stereotypes and establish unrealistic expectations in children. Others voice concern over the violence exhibited in many stories. Still others find fairy tales relatively harmless while questioning their relevance to today’s youth. One current work by a noted psychologist attempts to rewrite and update fairy tales to embrace contemporary social situations, perceptions and concepts.

Perhaps the most important and insightful work on the subject is “The Uses of Enchantment” by psychoanalyst Bruno Bettelheim. Bettelheim maintains that, like all lasting legends and folklore, fairy tales contain universal symbols of human experience and, for children, a “safe” arena for dealing with the complexities of their own needs. He recognizes that the content of fairy tales has significance to all persons, regardless of age, but points out that children are more open in their responses than are adults.


Dr. Sheldon Cashdan
What accounts for the enduring charm of fairy tales? Why are generations of children drawn to stories such as Hansel and Gretel, Snow White, and Cinderella? In The Witch Must Die: How Fairy Tales Shape Our Lives, Dr. Cashdan explores how fairy tales help children deal with psychological conflicts by projecting their own internal struggles between good and evil onto the battles enacted by the characters in the stories. Rumpelstiltskin, Pinocchio and Rapunzel vividly dramatize lust, envy, avarice and sloth on a safe stage, allowing children to confront their own "deadly sins."

“Fairy tales are ultimately a celebration of life. Both enchanting and empowering, they are as timely today as they were hundreds of years ago. The underlying dynamic—the age-old struggle between good and evil—resonates between the lines of Snow White, Jack and the Beanstalk and The Emperor’s New Clothes, as it will in the as yet unwritten stories of the twenty-first century. For this reason, the witch will continue to be a major presence in fairy tales, sensitizing us to forces within ourselves that pose a challenge to our sense of who we are. Her destruction is not an act of vengeance, nor even cruelty. It merely reminds us that sinful tendencies are a part of everyday existence, and that we must do battle with them if we wish to have a fairy-tale ending.”


Commedia Dell ‘Arte
This colorful and extremely theatrical art form is based on the interaction of traditional stock characters in improvised scenarios that facilitate a comic plot to arrive at a humorous climax. Commedia dell'arte (comedy of artists) originated in streets and market places of the early Italian Renaissance, although it's roots can be traced as far back as far as Ancient Greek and Roman Theatre. These Italian street performers, donning masks with exaggerated comic features to draw additional attention to themselves and complement their physical and acrobatic skills, eventually teamed up in troupes of actors often with a traveling stage to firmly establish commedia as a genre in it's own right by the mid-1500's.

These "commedia troupes" performed for and were accessible to all social classes. Language was no barrier, and with their skillful mime, stereotyped stock characters, traditional lazzi's (signature stunts, gags and pranks), masks, broad physical gestures, improvised dialogue and clowning, they became widely accepted wherever they traveled. In later years, the tradition spread all over Europe, eventually adopting a major French influence where many of the scenarios were scripted into commedia-style plays. The style and formula of commedia is now surviving well into the late 20th century and beyond continuing the tradition as an artistic institution where gifted actors create some of the most memorable, historic physical characters the theatre has ever seen. It is from the Commedia world where such characters as Arlechinno (Harlequin), Columbina, The Innamorati (lovers) Pulcinella (Punch), The Doctor, The Captain and Pantalone emerged to reign in theatre for centuries.

Actors, writers, composers, painters and artists of all kinds have been inspired by the work of commedia; some most obvious influences are by the work of Elizabethan dramatists, Moliere, Callot, Watteau, Cezanne, Picasso, Charlie Chaplin, The Marx Brothers, Early 20th Century Vaudeville, Rowan Atkinson, Mel Brookes, and even the characters and scenarios of the T.V. show, Seinfeld.


Classic characters from Commedia Dell’arte
Following is a partial list of the original Italian characters, with other English or French names, or descendant characters (in parentheses), and the towns/regions to which they are eventually associated:

  • Arlecchino (Harlequin), Venice, an acrobat and conniving clown, he carried a baton that he used to bash other characters, leading to the modern term "slapstick". He wore a cat mask, and his ultimate costume, a patchwork of red, green, and blue diamonds is still a fashion motif.

  • Brighella (Figaro, Moliere's Scapin), Bergamo, a money-grubbing villain, a partner of Arlecchino

  • Columbina (Colombina, the Servant, Columbine, Harlequine, Pierrette), Venice, maidservant to Inamorata and lover of Arlecchino, usually involved in intrigue

  • Il Capitano (the Captain), boastful he-man soldier, but a coward underneath

  • Il Dottore (the Doctor), Bologna, Pantalone's friend, and a quack

  • Inamorata (the Lover), the "leading woman", who wore no mask (see innamorati)

  • Inamorato (the Lover), the "leading man", who wore no mask (see innamorati)

  • Pagliaccio (the Clown), a forerunner of today's clowns

  • Pantalone (Pantaloon), Bologna, a rich and miserly merchant


The Modern Commedia Dell’arte
A sitcom or situation comedy is a genre of comedy performance found on television and occasionally radio.

It usually consists of recurring characters in a 30 minute format in which there are one or more story lines centered around a common environment, such as a family home or workplace. Traditionally, situation comedies were largely self-contained, in that the characters themselves remained largely static and events in the sitcom resolved themselves by the conclusion of the show. An example of this is the animated situation comedy The Simpsons, where the characteristics of animation has rendered the characters unchanging in appearance forever -- although the characters in the show have sometimes made knowing references to this.

Others, though, use greater or lesser elements of ongoing storylines: Friends, a hugely popular sitcom of the 1990s, contained soap opera elements such as regularly resorting to an end-of-season cliffhanger, and has gradually developed the relationships of the characters.

Situation comedies have been a part of the television landscape since its inception. One particularly well- known early example was I Love Lucy, starring Lucille Ball.

A selection of other well-known American situation comedies include: Cheers, Seinfeld, MASH, and Hogan's Heroes.


Timeless Comedy
Slapstick is a type of comedy involving physical action. One classic piece of slapstick comedy is to have a person slip on a banana peel and fall to the ground with limbs flailing. The style was explored extensively during the "golden era" of black and white, silent movies directed by Mack Sennett and featuring such notables as Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy and the Keystone Kops. It is also common in animated cartoons like Tom and Jerry and The Roadrunner.

The style is derived from the Commedia dell'arte which employed a great deal of physical abuse and tumbling. The phrase comes from a device they used composed of two wooden slats which looked like a bat and which, when struck, produced a loud popping noise with very little force. This battacio, or slapstick as it was called in English, allowed the actors to strike each other repeatedly while causing no actual damage. It was a very early form of special effect.

In recent times, violence in comedy has been decried by many, but many modern films like "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" and "Scream" combine violence and comedy, not to mention Itchy and Scratchy and it is unlikely that this traditional source of laughs will ever disappear.

Modern comedy films such as Dumb and Dumber often use elements of slapstick.



  1. Read The Princess and the Pea to your students. Explain to them that there are dozens of adaptations of this story and the version they will see will not be exactly like the one they have read.

TH.C.1.1.2 (PreK-2) The student understands how we learn about ourselves, our relationships and our environment through forms of theater (e.g., film, television, plays, and electronic media)

 TH.E.1.2.2 (3-5) The student understands the artistic characteristics of various media and the advantages and disadvantages of telling stories through those artistic media.
LA.A.2.2.7 (3-5) The student recognizes the use of comparison and contrast in a text.

  1. Ask your students to discuss the difference between television and live theatre. It is important that they know about “theatre etiquette,” or manners. Refer to the poem “Matinee Manners” listed above.

 TH.E.1.2.3 (PreK-2) The student understands and uses appropriate behavior in a cultural experience.

 TH.E.1.2.3 (3-5) The student understands theatre as a social function and theatre etiquette as the responsibility of the audience.

  1. Have the students learn the following vocabulary words and listen for them during the play. See how many words they can recall and how the characters used them in the context of the play.

apologize destiny itinerary revel

archaic feisty precocious sensitive

arrogant genuine pompous serenade

betrothed glorious porter slapstick

bizarre gossip quest slumber

bliss hideous rebellious soothsayer

charade indignant romantic sonnet

deceive ironic rescue sublime

LA.A.1.1.3 (PreK-2) The student uses knowledge of appropriate grade-, age-, and developmental-level vocabulary in reading.

LA.A.1.2.3 (3-5) The student uses simple strategies to determine meaning and increase vocabulary for reading including the use of prefixes, suffixes, root words, multiple meanings, antonyms, synonyms, and word relationships.
4. Have the students look and listen for patterns during the play. See how many patterns they can recall and how they were used in the context of the play. Encourage students to be aware of patterns that may occur in music, dance, scenery, costumes and dialogue. Students may also notice architectural patterns in the theatre.
MA.D.1.1.1 (PreK-2) The student describes a wide variety of classification schemes and patterns related to physical characteristics and sensory attributes, such as rhythm, sound, shapes, colors, numbers, similar objects and similar events.
MA.D.1.2.1 (3-5) The student describes a wide variety of patterns and relationships through models, such as manipulatives, tables, graphs, and rules using algebraic symbols.

Part I
1. Discuss the production with your students. What did they like or dislike about the play? Who was their favorite character? Why? Have the students draw a picture or write a letter to the cast of The Princess and the Pea telling them what they have learned.
LA.B.1.1.2 (PreK-2) The student drafts and revises simple sentences and passages, stories, letters and simple explanations that: express ideas clearly; show an awareness of topic and audience; have a beginning, middle and ending; effectively use common words; have supporting detail; and are in legible printing.
LA.B.1.2.3 (3-5) The student produces final documents that have been edited for: correct spelling; correct use of punctuation, including commas in series, dates, and addresses, and beginning and ending quotation marks; correct capitalization of proper nouns; correct paragraph indentation; correct usage of subject/verb agreement, verb and noun forms, and sentence structure; and correct formatting according to instructions.

Part II

RELEVANT THEMES: 1. First Impressions

  1. What a tangled web we weave…

  2. True Love

  3. Personal decision making/cause and effect

Refer to the themes listed above. Ask the following questions to relate the themes to everyday life.

  1. The Princess and The Prince didn't like each other at first, but before long they grew to be

friends and even fell in love. First impressions can often be deceiving and many times we never see the good qualities in others because we make snap judgements about them.

  1. Ask the students if they have ever judged someone unfairly, only to become friends

with them later.

b. Has it ever happened to them?

LA.C.1.1.3 (PreK-2) The student carries on a conversation with another person seeking answers and further explanations of the other’s ideas through questioning and answering.
LA.C.3.2.2 (3-5) The student asks questions and makes comments and observations to clarify understanding of content, processes and experiences.

  1. In the Stages version of The Princess and The Pea, the character of Harlequino is constantly getting into trouble because of his deceitful ways.

  1. How does lying get Harlequino into trouble? With Queen Josefina, with Columbina,

with the Prince, with the Princess?

  1. How can lying get you into trouble?

  2. How is the Princess rewarded for her honesty at the end of the play?

  3. Ask your students how what they've learned about honesty applies to their daily lives. Also, discuss the need to be tactful when situations occur where honesty can be hurtful. Example: How do you react when Grandma gives you underwear at Christmas…again!

LA.E.2.1.1 (PreK-2) The student uses personal perspective in responding to a work of literature, such as relating characters and simple events in a story or biography to people or events in his or her own life.

LA.E.2.2.3 (3-5) The student responds to a work of literature by explaining how the motives of the characters or the causes of events compare with those in his or her own life.

  1. In many cultures of the past, arranged marriages were not only common, but also expected. It did not matter if the bride and groom loved each other or not. Marriages were business deals between families and kingdoms.

  1. Are arranged marriages fair? Why or why not?

  2. Can you think of any countries today that still practice arranged marriages?

  3. What are some of the qualities of a true love relationship?

  4. Why couldn't the Princess fall in love at first? (selfish, immature, etc.)

LA.C.3.1.2 (PreK-2) The student asks questions to seek answers and further explanation of other people’s ideas.

LA.C.3.2.5 (3-5) The student participates as a contributor and occasionally acts as a leader in group discussions.

  1. Seeing a play performed live is one of the best ways to examine a characters' actions and

to learn by their consequences.

  1. Introduce the character Harlequino who is always getting into trouble because of his

actions. Recall from the play his ridiculous disguises, the balcony scene, the quest and other devious escapades. What were the consequences?

  1. Brainstorm with your students what other actions Harlequino could have taken. What

might the consequences of those actions be?

  1. Ask your students to share an action that they took and the consequence that followed.

Think of positive and negative examples.

  • Identifying cause and effect relationships within a story helps students focus on two important elements of comprehension: what happened in the story, and why it happened. Looking for causes and their effects gives students an opportunity to look carefully at the consequences of characters' actions and to think about how different actions might have different effects.

LA.A.2.2.3-(3-5) The student responds to a work of literature by explaining how the motives of the characters or the causes of events compare with those in his or her own life.


  1. Act out a scene from The Princess and The Pea using some of the commedia dell 'arte characters on the next page. Be creative and assign a director, actors, prompter, etc.

TH.A.1.2.1 (PreK-2) – The student creates imagined characters, relationships, and environments, using basic acting skills (e.g. sensory recall, concentration, pantomime and vocal improvisation).

TH.A.1.2.1 (3-5) - The student creates imagined characters, relationships, and environments, using basic acting skills (e.g., breath control, diction, concentration, and control of isolated body parts).

  1. Have students make dioramas or scrapbooks with flags, maps, costumes, and other symbols of the Italian culture that they have learned about during the show.

VA.A.1.1.1 (PreK-2) – The student uses two-dimensional and three-dimensional media, techniques, tools, and processes to depict works of art from personal experiences, observation, or imagination.

VA.A.1.2.1 (3-5) – The student uses two-dimensional and three-dimensional media, techniques, tools, and processes to produce works of art from personal experiences, observation, or imagination.

  1. Have the students listen to, analyze, and describe the music from the show. There are many different instruments used in the musical arrangements to reflect another time period. Example: violins, harpsichord and pan flute. What instruments are prevalent in today's pop/rap culture? (percussion, a lot of bass, etc.!) Students can also create multicultural songbooks. Include cultural music from the commedia period (1500's to 1700's), the students own ethnic backgrounds, and songs from the USA.

MU.C.1.1.1 (PreK-2) The student knows the general cultural and/or historical settings of various types of music.

MU.D.1.2.1 (3-5) The student knows how to analyze simple songs in regard to rhythm, melodic movement, and basic forms (e.g., ABA, verse, and refrain).

The Art of FCAT

Contributed by Patricia Linder
 Visual and Performing Arts Field Trips provide an excellent source of support for the development of skills necessary for success on the FCAT. We invite you to use these instructional strategies to enhance FCAT preparation through your theatre field trip.
Theatre Activities
FCAT Cognitive Level 1
Read the story (or play) your field trip performance is based on.

Name the main character.

List all the characters.

Identify the setting.

List the story events in the order they happened.
Describe a character (or setting).

Explain the problem (or conflict) in the story.

Explain how the actors used stage props to tell the story (or develop characterization).

Discuss how the blocking, or positioning of the actors on stage affected the performance.

Discuss how unusual technical elements (light, shadow, sound, etc.) were used in the performance.

Draw a picture of a character.

Illustrate or make a diorama of a scene from the performance.

Draw a poster to advertise the performance.

Work with other students to act out a scene.

Demonstrate how an actor used facial expression to show emotion.

Write a narrative story to summarize the plot of the performance story.

Use a map and/or timeline to locate the setting of the story.

Make a mobile showing events in the story.

FCAT Cognitive Level II

Would the main character make a good friend? Write an expository essay explaining why or why not.

Create a graph that records performance data such as: female characters, male characters, animal characters or number of characters in each scene, etc.

Compare/Contrast a character to someone you know or compare/contrast the setting to a different location or time.

Solve a special effects mystery. Use words or pictures to explain how “special effects” (Lighting, smoke, sound effects) were created.
Imagine the story in a different time or place. Design sets or costumes for the new setting.

You’re the director. Plan the performance of a scene in your classroom. Include the cast of characters, staging area, and ideas for costumes, scenery, and props in your plan.

Create a new ending to the story.
Did you enjoy the performance? Write a persuasive essay convincing a friend to go see this production.

Write a letter to the production company nominating a performer for a “Best Actor Award.” Explain why your nominee should win the award.

Create a rubric to rate the performance. Decide on criteria for judging: Sets, Costumes, Acting, Lighting, Special Effects, Overall Performance, etc.


STAGES PRODUCTIONS is a professional theatre ensemble that specializes in bringing classic fairy tales to over 150,000 young people each year throughout the Southeast.
STAGES' show credits include critically acclaimed performances of The Frog Prince, Cinderella, The Emperor's New Clothes and Hansel & Gretel. Be sure to join us for our 20th Season featuring Santa's Holiday Revue, Let Freedom Sing, and The Ugly Duckling.
STAGES PRODUCTIONS is dedicated to making drama an integral part of education, and lesson plans help incorporate these plays into the student’s curriculum. Thank you for supporting this mission by choosing a STAGES PRODUCTIONS play!


Sunshine State Standards [Online] Available: http://www.firn.edu/doe/menu/sss.htm

Hans Christian Andersen Center http://www.andersen.sdu.dk/index_e.html

Bettelheim, Bruno,(1975). The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales. (Vintage Books Edition, 1989). Random House.

Cashdan, Sheldon, (1999). The Witch Must Die: How Fairy Tales Shape Our Lives. (First Edition, 1999), Basic Books.

Andersen, Hans C.,(1835) Fairy Tales from Hans Christian Andersen. (Classic Illustrated Edition, 1992). Chronicle Books.

Einfeld, Jann, (2001) Fairy Tales: The Greenhaven Press Companion to Literary Movements and Genres. (First Edition, 2001), Greenhaven Press.

Zipes, Jack, (2000) The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales. (First Edition, 2000), Oxford University Press

Traktman, P., Matinee Manners.

Microsoft Encarta ‘98 Encyclopedia . (1998)


Linder, P., The Art of FCAT.

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