Children’s Theatre presents pirate tale

By Jenn Lloyd
Special to the Delaware State News
DOVER — For its 20th anniversary, the Children’s Theatre Inc., is bringing back previously performed shows. This weekend, directors Kathy Szramka and Pam Lloyd are presenting an old favorite, “Treasure Island.”

23dsn Treasure 3The play, based on the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson, is the story of a young boy named Jim Hawkins who meets pirates and goes on an adventure to try to find gold. Along the way, he has to figure out who to trust, fend for himself, think on his feet and fight.
In 2008, Ms. Lloyd directed “Treasure Island” for the first time.
“It is really interesting to work with different actors and to see how they interpret characters differently than the 2008 cast,” she said.
Ms. Szramka has moved from being the parent of an actor to a director. During the 2008 production, her son, Sam, got his first role. “Now it is his 19th play and I am helping direct it so it makes it even more special to me,” she said.
Sam, now 17, was in the previous “Treasure Island” when he was 8 years old. Then he played a background character without a name, but now he plays one of the main roles, Long John Silver.
He described his character as very manipulative. He seems like a simple innkeeper who listens to authority when he is in the presence of certain characters, but becomes tough and in charge when with the pirates he commands.
“The whole time he has to act like he’s an innocent cook on the voyage when really he’s this pirate ringleader. He goes from being ‘yes sir, no sir’ and very polite to yelling at people. People will back away from him at the slightest thing he does because he’s killed people before just for talking back to him,” Sam said.
Although in “Treasure Island” for a second time, Sam said it is a new experience. Being older now and on stage for a longer period of time, he is noticing aspects of the play and characters he didn’t before.
“I didn’t really get to experience the play the way I am now. I didn’t know there was so much behind all these characters.” he said.
The lead role of Jim Hawkins is played by Josiah Rich, 11.
Josiah says that Jim is similar to him in some ways.
“He’s kind of scared of all the pirates, but as the play progresses, he gets less scared of the pirates and adapts to his situation and eventually becomes the hero of the adventure,” he said.
Josiah is practical about how he feels if he were to go on the type of a journey that Jim does.
“One half of me is like adventure, pirates, this is going to be fun. The other half of me is like, what if I’m the one who loses the sword fight?” said Josiah.
Many of the actors watched some of the various “Treasure Island” movies to help them with their characters.
“I watched one and it had Christian Bale playing Jim so that gave me a lot of motivation,” Josiah said. “That was when he was just a kid so it gave me inspiration.”
With a majority of the characters in Treasure Island being male, many actresses have male roles in this play. Getting the body language, voice and posture correct was an extra challenge for many of these young female actors.
Gianna Pierce, 15, plays Dr. Livesey who is not only a doctor but also a judge.
“Dr. Livesey is a very interesting character I think because he cares a lot about everyone, but in the end he knows what has to get done, so he does it,” she said.
In order to play a male, Gianna said she had to learn to lose her manners, stand with her back straight, not put weight on one leg but have her weight distributed even, have legs apart and be gruff.
Capt. Smollett is played by Teresa Pierce, 17. The captain is sailing a ship for Squire Trelawney to find the pirate gold. Capt. Smollett is from the English Navy and is not a pirate.
“He is a strict man, he keeps control over his crew,” Teresa said.
“He kind of expects honesty and doesn’t like the fact that he isn’t at first given all the information he wants.”
Squire Trelawney, played by Cameron Catalino, and Capt. Smollett don’t get along all that well for most of the play. They have very different personalities and see different things in the journey.
“The captain’s all about order and the squire knows more about the adventure of it all,” said Teresa. The captain and Dr. Livesey respect each other so they get along well. As for Jim, Capt. Smollett is protective of him, she said.
In order to play her role physically, Teresa used her father for inspiration. She said even when she was standing still, she had to pay attention to what her hands were doing.
“Women use their hands a lot more often than men do so I had to make sure I was bringing across a more strict, controlled way men move,” Teresa said.
She has noticed many unconscious things that women do, which she had to control.
“Girls, when they talk, bring their voices up. There’s a lot more inflection with the voices. Touching your hair, touching your face, girls do that and I’ve had to control that,” Teresa said.
“It’s made me watch how I move as an actor on stage. It’s made me work on my physical acting a lot better.”
The shows, at the Schwartz Center for the Arts, 226 S. State St. in Dover, are set for Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
“There’s no stop to the action. Just one thing to the next. There’s nothing lulling about any of the scenes,” Gianna said.
Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for children and can be purchased at www.schwartzcenter.com.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Jenn Lloyd is an assistant director of “Treasure Island” and daughter of Children’s Theatre founders Pam and Andy Lloyd.

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