2011 Story Store Set to Take Stage
by Katie Williams
The curtain is rising on yet another year for The Story Store.
This week, the Williams Baptist College Theatre program and the Northeast Arkansas Educational Cooperative will be producing a play for area elementary students, The Story Store.
"I take stories submitted from gifted and talented students from schools serviced by the Northeast Arkansas Educational Cooperative and put them in a play," states Melinda Williams, director of the production. "Then, the theatre department from WBC performs the play at the Walnut Ridge Community Center for the schools that submitted stories."
The production is centered on a place, the Story Store, which encourages imagination because it sells "stories" and not books.
The idea for The Story Store was born 11 years ago. Williams attended a workshop in northwest Arkansas where they were looking for writers in a program similar to The Story Store. Sadly, funding fell through on the original idea. However, with the help of Rebecca Jones, former gifted and talented coordinator for Sloan-Hendrix High School, and Jill Clogston of the Northeast Arkansas Co-op, Williams was able to make the idea flourish in this region.
Williams said about the process of writing the play, "It's really fun to just let go and create my own characters with their own individual personalities. I love to see people laughing and enjoying what I write."
Will Ward, a second-year actor in the Story Store, noted, "I really enjoy acting for kids. They are one of the best audiences you can work with."
The Story Store is fun for the writer and the performers, but the most important opinion is the audience. Hannah Rowsey, a 2010 graduate of Sloan-Hendrix High School and former story submitter for the production, shared her memories: "I wrote a fairy tale that was chosen for The Story Store. The Story Store is a wonderful collaboration. I felt accomplished and special having a story I wrote picked and performed on stage. I was so excited to see how what I wrote would be portrayed."
But, what's new for this year?
"About five years ago, I developed stock characters. We used the same basic characters, adding some and taking away some," Williams said. "But, this year, we have a whole new set of characters."
Every year, the show and stories center on a theme. This year's theme is adjusting to a new place or unfamiliar situation.
This year's Story Store received 37 entries from eight schools, including Sloan-Hendrix: Maddyson Lamb and Emily Jines; Maynard: Kyle Glisson and Emily Crawly; Corning: Brooke Medling; Hoxie: Hannah Powell and Harley Cullins; Jackson County: Kemerson Janson and Kaitlyn Peary; Rector: Conley Lockhart, Avery Bucy, and Sarah Isom; Hillcrest: Meridith Helms; and Piggott: Kourtney Chadwell and Emily Crouch.
Local schoolchildren will comprise the audience when the production is presented March 1 in the Walnut Ridge Community Center.
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