By Sarah Kuper
This fall, Samford University students in the theatre for youth program will produce and perform the children’s book-turned-play “How I Became a Pirate.”
Samford is one of only a handful of universities that offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in theatre for youth.
Undergraduates in the program learn the ins and outs of performing, producing and teaching children’s theater. Classes cover acting, teaching, writing for children and philosophies on how to direct young actors.
Laura Byland, theatre for youth program director, said the program is distinct in several ways.
“Students learn to meet children where they are developmentally,” she said. “Teaching and working with a preschooler is very different than working with a fourth-grader.”
Byland added that participating in theater, whether performing or watching, is much different for children than adults.
“Children are very responsive and not as self-aware. They are more free and willing to play and enter an imaginary world,” she said.
Last year was the first year the school offered the major, and stu- dents produced “Sleeping Beauty.”
This year’s play, “How I Became a Pirate,” is a musical adapted from the Melinda Long book of the same name.
Byland said the play has everything that is special to children’s theater: adventure, goofy songs, imaginary worlds and, of course, misfit pirates.
She said the book is targeted toward second- or third-graders, but the musical is appropriate for all elementary schoolers.
“There is nothing scary. It’s a story about a little boy thinking he wants to go on an adventure but really the adventure is in his backyard,” she said.
Students involved with the show return to Samford’s campus later this month and will dive right into rehearsals and set design.
The play runs from Sept. 29 to Oct. 1 in Harrison Theatre on Samford’s campus.
Tickets are $5 for children and $10 for adults.
To learn more about Theatre for Youth and other performances at Samford, visit samford.edu/arts/ series. ❖