Lessons From *Lily*
Wildwood Park for the Arts is currently touring my play *Lily and the Apple Seed.* They've been all over the state encouraging k-5th graders to make healthy choices. I watched the production for the first time two weeks ago at Jefferson Elementary here in Little Rock. This was my first full-length play to write by myself, and I feel so fortunate to have seen it in production. My major lesson is not an earth-shattering one for theatre artists. In fact, its pretty basic--"Show, don't tell." I primarily used narration to tell the story of this young girl faced with a food dilemma instead of using action scenes. There were several reasons for this: 1) I based the play on a narrative story by my sister-in-law, Emily Sutterfield; 2) I was limited to three actors, and I wasn't sure how to do action scenes involving different more than three characters and only three actors; and 3) I was commissioned to write a play encouraging the seed to plate idea. I didn't know how to do this without being didactic; therefore, I tried to used Brechtian techniques to embrace the didactism rather than fight it. This, too, led me to narration. As I revise, I will attempt to lose much of the narration as well as the strong didactic message. Though I'm proud of what we created, I think the next version will be significantly different, and I hope those changes are for the better. I am so thankful for everyone who worked on this project--especially director Stacy Pendergraft and set designer Cheri Devol. They made me look good!
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About the Author: April Gentry-Sutterfield is a director, deviser, educator, and mom who uses theatre as a tool for social justice, education, and community engagement.