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Study Guide Contents

Director of Educational Outreach Lauren Unbekant (315) 443-1150

Assistant Director of Education Kate Laissle (315) 442-7755

3.) Production Information

Group Sales & Student Matinees Tracey White (315) 443-9844

Box Office (315) 443-3275

4.) Introduction 5.) Letter from the Education Director 6.) About the Play 7.) Puppets 8.) Character Archetypes 9.) What is bullying? 10.) Projects 12.) Elements of Teaching Theatre




Robert M. Hupp Artistic Director Jill A. Anderson Managing Director

College of Visual and Performing Arts Kyle Bass Associate Artistic Director


Ralph Zito Chair, Department of Drama



Lauren Unbekant FRANK/MR. T




Cormac Bohan

Anthony Hernandez

Katherine Simmons

Justin Slepicoff





Lindsey Vandevier

Emmett Van Slyke

September 19 – December 14, 2017 SYRACUSE STAGE EDUCATION

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A few reminders...

audience etiquette BE PROMPT Give your students plenty of time to arrive, find their seats, and get situated. Have them visit the restrooms before the show begins. RESPECT OTHERS Please remind your students that their behavior and responses affect the quality of the performance and the enjoyment of the production for the entire audience. Live theatre means the actors and the audience are in the same room, and just as the audience can see and hear the performers, the performers can see and hear the audience. Please ask your students to avoid disturbing those around them. Please no talking or unnecessary or disruptive movement during the performance. Also, please remind students that cellphones should be switched off completely. No texting or tweeting, please. When students give their full attention to the action on the stage, they will be rewarded with the best performance possible.



As you take your students on the exciting journey into the world of live theatre we hope that you’ll take a moment to help prepare them to make the most of their experience. Unlike movies or television, live theatre offers the thrill of unpredictability.

GOOD NOISE, BAD NOISE Instead of instructing students to remain totally silent, please discuss the difference between appropriate responses (laughter, applause, participation when requested) and inappropriate noise (talking, cell phones, etc).

With the actors present on stage, the audience response becomes an integral part of the performance and the overall experience: the more involved and attentive the audience, the better the show. Please remind your students that they play an important part in the success of the performance.

STAY WITH US Please do not leave or allow students to leave during the performance except in absolute emergencies. Again, reminding them to use the restrooms before the performance will help eliminate unnecessary disruption.


Dear Educator, Live theatre is a place for people to gather and experience the joys, triumphs, and sorrows life has to offer. The Syracuse Stage education department is committed to providing the tools to make learning in and through the arts possible to address varied learning styles and to make connections to curricula and life itself. It is our goal in the education department to maximize the theatre experience for our education partners with experiential learning and in-depth arts programming. Thank you for your interest and support. Sincerely,

Lauren Unbekant Director of Educational Outreach

2017/2018 EDUCATIONAL OUTREACH SPONSORS Syracuse Stage is committed to providing students with rich theatre experiences that explore and examine what it is to be human. Research shows that children who participate in or are exposed to the arts show higher academic achievement, stronger self-esteem, and improved ability to plan and work toward a future goal. Many students in our community have their first taste of live theatre through Syracuse Stage’s outreach programs. Last season more than 15,500 students from across New York State attended or participated in the Bank of America Children’s Tour, artsEmerging, the Young Playwrights Festival, Backstory, Young Adult Council, and our Student Matinee Program. We gratefully acknowledge the corporations and foundations who support our commitment to in-depth arts education for our comunity.


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About the Play Metamorphan is the story of a young orphan boy named Gregory, whose difficult foster home life has made his life at school miserable. Gregory is teased by his classmates and the school bully “Skeet” for his shabby clothes and second hand sneakers. Gregory is always last chosenfor kickball, scooter soccer, or any sport at all, his only friend is the school custodian, Frank. Frank not only provides guidance and sage wisdom, but also has some magic up his sleeve and in his cart. One afternoon after a particularly harsh Gym class, Gregory pours his heart out to Frank and tells him that he wishes he could disappear, “just crawl away and never be noticed or teased again.” He gets his wish. The next morning Gregory awakes to find that he has been transformed into a beetle. He sneaks out of his basement bedroom and returns to school in his new form. Gregory is not just your run of the mill beetle, but a Super Sports Beetle. Instead of going unnoticed Gregory becomes a kickball legend. Initially, his new found fame goes to his head and he becomes as much of a pest as the kids who initially teased him. Then he discovers 2nd grader Lilith crying by the school dumpster. Lillith’s story and circumstance are similar to Gregory’s. With the help of Frank the custodian, they take on the school culture of bullying, challenge the status quo, and make a wonderful discovery in the process.

And boy oh boy we’ve seen some pretty incredible stuff, things that would make your head spin. Magic mutation and metamorphosis! -Twiddle Dee





Metamorphan uses puppets to bring to life the reporter flies Twiddle Dee and Twiddle Duh. Puppets have been used in theatre and storytelling for hundreds of years and are seen in different styles across the world. There are many different styles of puppets; here is some information on a few of the most common types.




Glove puppets are worn on the hands. The middle finger and thumb can move the hands of the puppet while the index finger moves the head. If the puppet has a moveable mouth, the thumb moves the lower jaw while the other four fingers move the upper jaw.

Sticks or wire rods manipulate rod puppets attached to the neck and hands. In most cases, these controls come from below. Rod puppets may also be worked with rods from above, or any direction necessary for good movement and performance.

Mostly rod puppets, they are made flat and cast a shadow when the puppeteer manipulates them between a light source and a screen (often a piece of muslin stretched like a canvas). A shadow puppeteer learns to move the puppet in and out of the light so its shadow grows and shrinks and goes in and out of sharp focus. Traditionally, these are made from animal hides that are painted and perforated with decorative designs.

Marionette (String) One of the most difficult forms of puppetry to manipulate effectively, marionettes are made of wood or cloth and hang on strings. Usually there are eight basic strings to a well-designed marionette. However, some marionettes can have thirty or more.


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Character Archetypes An archetype is something that reoccurs in literature and in art.This something can be a symbol, a theme, a setting, or a character. Archetypes appear in all genres of literature and these types sometimes help the audience feel familiar with characters they’ve just met. Here are the few of the character types that appear in Metamorphan. Innocent Innocents are the exemplars of optimism and will always be kind and trusting. This means they help make the world a nicer, brighter place, but that they may sometimes need a reality check when their rose-tinted glasses cloud their vision of the truth. Everyperson The everyperson believes that everyone is equal and that everyone belongs. They are honest and hardworking, but may create resistance if a leader tries to take the reins. Hero The hero is one who aims high and demonstrates discipline, focus, and courage. They inspire those around them, leading teams to victory, but their uncompromising mentality can lead to burnout and even aggression.




Like many pieces of literature, Metamorphan’s main character is an orphan. Orphans in children’s literature contain endless possibilities; they are able to act as they want independent of the influence of parents.They can make their own choices, which is thrilling, but are also unmoored by having no family.These characters can be very relatable, mirroring the difficulties of being a child and feeling alone and powerless while also focusing on the resiliency and creativity that comes from their struggle. Here are a few well known orphans from children’s literature: Harry Potter - Harry Potter Series Violet, Clause, and Sunny Baudelaire -A Series of Unfortunate Events Mowgli – Jungle Book Lilo – Lilo and Stitch Elsa and Anna - Frozen

Magician Big dreams and transformation lead the Magicians. They dazzle with their ability to accomplish the impossible and make visions into realities. If magicians can overcome the temptation to use power to manipulate, they can use their energy for good.

What is bullying?

Bullying is very complex and does not just mean a bigger person hitting a smaller person. According to the National Bullying Prevention Center, bullying is when a person or student is emotionally or physically harmed by another person or student. Bully behavior includes what is called an “imbalance of power” when a person with more power or social capital, such as being physically stronger or more popular, tries to hurt a person with less power. By doing this the person with more power normally hopes to feel more powerful by taking someone else’s power away. Physical bullying can include hitting, kicking, and shoving.This aggression can either be done in an obvious way, such as in front of a teacher, or in a hidden way, such as hidden on a playground. Emotional bullying can include name calling, using bad words toward a person, gossiping, or excluding people on purpose from games or groups.These actions are intentional on the part of the aggressor. Children should understand that if they feel emotionally or physically harmed, then the situation is bullying.

How can you help? • Help others who are being bullied. Be a friend, even if this person is not yet your friend. Go over to him/her. Let him/her know how you think he/she is feeling. Help him/her to talk to an adult about what just happened. (Just think for a moment about how great this would be if someone did this for you when you were being picked on or hurt!) • Stop untrue or harmful messages from spreading. If someone tells you a rumor that you know

is untrue or sends you a message that is or classmates laughing along with the person hurtful to someone else, stand up and let the hurting someone else, tell them that they are person know this is wrong. contributing to the problem. Let them know that by laughing they are also bullying the victim. • Make friends outside of your group. Eat lunch with someone who is alone. Show support for • Respect others’ differences and help others to someone who is upset at school by asking them respect differences what is wrong or alerting an adult who can help. • Wth a teacher or principal’s support develop •Reach out to new people at your school. Intro- a bullying program or project that will help reduce them to your friends and help them feel duce bullying in school. Bring together a team comfortable. Imagine how you would feel leaving of students, parents and teachers to meet and your friends and coming to a new school. talk about bullying on a regular basis and share stories while supporting each other. • Refuse to be a “bystander”. If you see friends SYRACUSE STAGE EDUCATION

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Create your own puppets

Explore different ways of making puppets, such as sock puppets, finger puppets, and shadow puppets. Which type of puppet does each student like best? Why? Are certain styles of puppets better used in telling certain types of stories? Here is a wealth of different puppet activities: http://kidsactivitiesblog.com/66700/26-puppets-kids

Finding Characters

In Metamorphan, we see the character types of the innocent, the everyperson, the hero, and the magician. What other character types are there? Have students look for repeated character types in other books and stories they’ve read. What are the similarities and differeneces? Encourage students to come up with their own character types that they read about or see in movies and tv.

The Presentation

Have students respond in small groups or conduct a group discussion based on questions such as: • • • •



Why did the playwright add puppets to the play? What do they bring to the story? Was the play funny or serious? How did that affect the story? How did the actors use movement and voice to create their characters? The designers made many choices when they created the set and costumes for Metamorphan What did their designs add?


Writing a Review

After students have outlined the story and discussed the production elements, they can write reviews. Have them read their reviews aloud or post them online for other classes to read and respond. Reviews usually include the following: - a brief summary of the story - comments on the quality of the play itself - a description of the costumes and set and a comment on whether these were interesting and appropriate - comments on the actors’ character portrayals and on the director’s skill at pulling the whole thing together


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elements of drama PLOT

What is the story line? What happened before the play started? What do the characters want? What do they do to achieve their goals? What do they stand to gain/lose? THEME

What ideas are wrestled with in the play? What questions does the play pose? Does it present an opinion? CHARACTER

Who are the people in the story? What are their relationships? Why do they do what they do? How does age/status/etc. affect them? LANGUAGE

What do the characters say? How do they say it? When do they say it? MUSIC

How do music and sound help to tell the story? SPECTACLE

How do the elements come together to create the whole performance?

Other Elements: Conflict/Resolution, Action, Improvisation, Non-verbal communication, Staging, Humor, Realism and other styles, Metaphor, Language, Tone, Pattern & Repetition, Emotion, Point of view.




Any piece of theatre comprises multiple art forms. As you explore this production with your students, examine the use of:



At its core, drama is about characters working toward goals and overcoming obstacles. Ask students to use their bodies and voices to create characters who are: very old, very young, very strong, very weak, very tired, very energetic, very cold, very warm. Have their characters interact with others. Give them an objective to fulfill despite environmental obstacles. Later, recap by asking how these obstacles affected their characters and the pursuit of their objectives.


How are each of these art forms used in this production? Why are they used? How do they help to tell the story?

elements of design LINE can have length, width, texture, direction, and

curve. There are five basic varieties: vertical, horizontal, diagonal, curved, and zig-zag.

SHAPE is two-dimensional and encloses space.

It can be geometric (e.g. squares and circles), man-made, or free-form.

FORM is three-dimensional. It encloses space

and fills space. It can be geometric (e.g. cubes and cylinders), man-made, or free-form.

COLOR has three basic properties:

HUE is the name of the color (e.g. red, blue, green), INTENSITY is the strength of the color (bright or dull), VALUE is the range of lightness to darkness.

TEXTURE refers to the “feel” of an

object’s surface. It can be smooth, rough, soft, etc. Textures may be ACTUAL (able to be felt) or IMPLIED (suggested visually through the artist’s technique).

SPACE is defined and determined

by shapes and forms. Positive space is enclosed by shapes and forms, while negative space exists around them.


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