Aspen High School students reboot Aesop’s fables
If You Go…
What: ‘Aesop Refabled,’ presented by Aspen High School
Where: Black Box Theatre
When: Wednesday, Nov. 18 through Friday, Nov. 20, 6 p.m.
How much: $8/adults; $5 students and faculty; tickets available at the door
The 14 students in Aspen High School’s fall play class are bringing the lessons of Aesop’s Fables to the stage, recasting the timeless tales for their peers and a contemporary audience.
“Aesop Refabled” features eight fables reimagined for young people in the 21st century, along with a closing improvisational piece featuring the whole cast.
“The entire play is about taking Aesop’s Fables, which were written thousands of years ago, and taking them into our present lives and seeing how they relate back to us,” freshman Nick Galambos said.
Students opened the school year in drama teacher Alie Walsh’s class reading the play and auditioning for parts, and over the course of the semester they’ve memorized their lines, made sets and prepared a production that opens Wednesday night at the Black Box Theatre.
As they neared opening night, the students talked to playwright Nicole B. Adkins via Skype about the production. Adkins developed “Aesop Refabled” at Los Angeles’ SkyPilot Theatre Company, where the show debuted in 2011. Adkins also wrote the opening fable, “Andy and Chrys,” which reboots Aesop’s “The Ant and the Chrysalis” with a disabled high schooler on a basketball court.
Students said they were impacted by the way Adkins reinforced the “show don’t tell” approach to storytelling, letting the action play out through characters rather than preaching a lesson to an audience.
“The morals come out in each scene,” sophomore Francesca Seaman said. “The authors of the scenes didn’t just try to put their opinions into the audience’s head. It’s more focused on telling the story.”
Students Erika Goph and Lily Royrer made large line drawings of each of the fables in their traditional form, which serve as the backdrop for the corresponding scenes and offer a contrast between the classic tales and these modern updates.
By last week, the students were finalizing their lighting cues and blocking scenes in the Black Box. In its third hour of rehearsals one afternoon, the cast and crew was working on a scene based on “The Lion and the Boar,” here reimagined as a tale of schoolyard bullying that features tall upperclassmen being pushed around by a smaller freshman over a cupcake.
“Each scene brings something new that might be unexpected,” said Galambos, who plays the undersized bully. “In ‘The Lion and the Boar’ we’re asking, ‘What does it really mean to be a bully?’ There’s stuff like that: you’re going to take something from it that isn’t the usual.”
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