Literacy Center launches play season with ‘Stone Soup’

When her people cannot work together, one cunning queen finds a way to teach them how. The Augusta University Literacy Center will present “Stone Soup,” the classic fable about sharing and cooperation, on Sept. 23 at the Maxwell Performing Arts Theater.

In the play, a benevolent ruler notices some of her subjects growing stingy with one another, and tricks them into sharing their food through disguise and a series of hilarious situations. By working together, with everyone contributing what they can, the town is transformed. The engaging stories in this and other plays presented by the center are another way to promote love and interest in literature and reading. This year, the literacy center has partnered with Porkchop Productions to bring a series of plays to life for children from across the CSRA, with the purpose of improving literacy.

“Besides being fun for children, attending literacy plays helps children develop decoding skills, fluency, vocabulary, syntactic knowledge, discourse knowledge and metacognitive thinking. In short, the mental requirements for understanding dramatic productions are very similar to those used for reading comprehension,” said Dr. Paulette Harris, founder and director of the AU Literacy Center.

The center will offer six productions this year, starting with “Stone Soup,” and continuing with classics like “The Princess and the Pea” and “The Ant and the Grasshopper.”

“But you’ve never seen these shows before,” said Porkchop Productions’ founder Stacey Maxwell. “All of our shows are original content. We take the short fables and lengthen them, and the darker fairy tales and lighten them. We teach a lesson that appeals to both children and adults with lots of pop culture references and light-hearted jokes.”

Maxwell said the shows add a frenetic, kinetic energy to stories that children may only see in the page. The drama engages them, helps them to better visualize words in action – a skill they can take back to their reading. In fact, teaching a lesson while entertaining was part of what inspired Maxwell to found the children’s theater production company 21 years ago. And to do that, she rewrites the plays as time passes, rotating them in and out every five years to keep the content fresh.

“It’s 2015,” she said, with a chuckle. “The Spice Girls just aren’t relevant anymore.”

Keeping things current helps kids connect with the stories, which in turn helps them connect with reading. And that, Harris said, is the whole point of offering the play series.

“The brain learns best when it is involved in exploring, thinking, and analyzing. Seeing plays on stage facilitates the brain to retain information as it provides a stimulating environment for young learners,” Harris said.

Tickets for the AU Literacy Center’s play series are available by contacting the AU Literacy Center. Seating is limited. School groups may make reservations. Tickets are $3 per person, group rates are available. For more information and to reserve seating, call the Literacy Center at 706-737-1625.

Season schedule

  • “Stone Soup” – Sept. 23, 10 a.m.
  • “The Ant and the Grasshopper” – Oct. 14, 10 am.
  • “Holly and the Secret Santa” – Dec. 16, 10 a.m.
  • “Sticks and Stones” – Jan. 13, 10 a.m.
  • “The Princess and the Pea” – March 23, 10 a.m.
  • “The Bremen Town Musicians” – May 25, 10 a.m.

The AU Literacy Center is located at 1401 Magnolia Dr., Augusta.  Call 706-737-1625, or visitgru.edu/colleges/education/lcenter.

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The mission of the College of Education is to educate and prepare prospective professionals to be knowledgeable, highly effective, and ethical practitioners who transform learners into thinking, productive citizens. Visit www.gru.edu/coe.

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Augusta University, formerly Georgia Regents University, is one of four public comprehensive research universities in the state with nearly 10,000 students enrolled in its nine colleges and schools, which include the Medical College of Georgia – the nation’s 13th-oldest medical school – the nationally-ranked Hull College of Business and Georgia’s only College of Dental Medicine. The clinical enterprise associated with the university includes the 478-bed Georgia Regents Medical Center and the 154-bed Children’s Hospital of Georgia. AU is a unit of the University System of Georgia and an equal opportunity institution. Visit www.gru.edu.

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