Review: Munsch at Play, Act Two

Munsch at Play, Act Two: Eight More Stage Adaptations
by Irene N. Watts and Robert Munsch
illustrated by Michael Martchenko

Any primary school teacher will tell you that children cannot get enough of Robert Munsch, whose stories have sold 30 million copies around the world, in over a dozen languages. If only some Munsch could be integrated into Math or another subject, then kids would be so much more enthusiastic about learning. Well, his stories can now be offered as part of Dramatic Arts. Yes, Irene N. Watts, an award-winning writer/playwright and theatre director, has adapted eight of Munsch's stories so that they can be performed as plays.

Munsch at Play, Act Two includes some old favourites, such as I Have To Go, David's Father, From Far Away and my personal favourite, Jonathan Cleaned Up--Then He Heard a Sound. Watt's stage adaptations are thorough and set out in simple enough terms so that even a beginner teacher, camp counsellor or parent will be able to stage one of the eight plays. Each adaptation covers the casting, staging, set design, props and costumes. Each performance takes about 10 minutes, depending on the cast size, space and the amount of audience participation. Although the performance may seem short, the play will obviously take much longer to prepare.

In the book's intro, Watts gives some wonderful tips for the person in charge. The plays may serve as something as simple as a reading exercise, but may also be expanded to incorporate some fun acting and miming work in small groups, right up to a full stage performance. And not to worry, Watts obviously realizes that not every child is dramatically inclined and includes some fun hints for non-acting activities, such as creating sound effects. In addition, she knows that not every school, community centre or backyard has a stage, so she makes some innovative suggestions for performance spaces and inexpensive props.

Over all, Munsch at Play is a great way to get kids aged 6 to 9 actively involved in a Munsch story rather than being just passive listeners.

Just a word of advice: you might want to teach your class the basics of acting, staging, set design, props and costumes by starting with I Have to Go rather than The Fire Station or Jonathan Cleaned Up--Then He Heard a Sound, which are more technically demanding.

Other reviews of children and YA books
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Books for Preschoolers
More Girl Spies Please
50 Poisonous Questions by Tanya Lloyd Kyi
The Trouble with Marlene by Billie Livingston
The Orphan Rescue by Anne Dublin
Dead Time by Christy Ann Conlin



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