Jasper Community Arts Commission in Jasper, Indiana presented Tall Stories’ production of “The Gruffalo” in February 2013.
This Arts Midwest Touring Fund—supported engagement featured a public performance and student performances.
Founded on May 12, 1975 as part of the City of Jasper, the Jasper Community Arts Commission’s mission is to stimulate and encourage an appreciation of and participation in the arts by citizens of all ages in Jasper and the nearby area, and to foster an environment conducive to the enjoyment of the arts. Four presenting series (Performers Series, Backstage Series, New Directions Series and Family Fun Series) are presented at the Jasper Arts Center. Recently presented artists include Dailey and Vincent, Ricky Nelson Remembered, Michael Kelsey, The Good Lovelies, ImaginOcean and Trout Fishing in America.
“The Gruffalo” tells the story of a small mouse who goes for a walk in the woods. Along the way, the mouse encounters several dangerous animals – a fox, an owl and a snake. Each of these animals invites the mouse back to their home for dinner, with the intention of the mouse being dinner. The little mouse politely declines each invitation, telling every animal that he is meeting his friend the Gruffalo for dinner, whose favorite food happens to be a fox, an owl or a snake. She describes the Gruffalo as a monster, including the claws, horns and the poisonous pimple on his nose. Frightened, each animal flees.
Eventually the mouse encounters a real Gruffalo – just exactly as she has described. The rest of the story revolves around how the mouse demonstrates that she is the scariest animal in the forest.
Tall Stories is a British production company specializing in children’s programming. Three actors use quick costume changes to represent the various animals. The play is based on the book The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson, published in 1999. Tall Stories has been performing since 1997.
The public performance of “The Gruffalo” was well-attended and included several families who were new to the facility. The school performances, which were targeted to students grades K-2, were also very successful. Staff had worried that young audience members might have trouble understanding the actors’ British accents, but based on feedback, children had no trouble comprehending the play. The students were wildly enthusiastic about the performance and flooded Jasper Arts staff with drawings and letters about their favorite moments afterwards.
Jasper Community Arts Commission decided to reach outside their usual partnership with the local school system and marketed the performance by through email and flyers to regional schools. The response was overwhelming and gratifying. Schools as far as 50 miles away elected to attend the performances, and many indicated they would like to continue this new partnership.
“With ever-tightening budgets, funding from the Arts Midwest Touring Fund allows us to keep our ticket prices low and affordable for all. This allows us to broaden our scope of impact, provide high quality arts entertainment, and to create positive arts experiences for our regional schools.” — Jasper Community Arts Commission staff
This engagement was a Star Project that provided access to a geographically underserved audience.