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University to Stage 'Reluctant Dragon'

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March 21, 2006 | by Judy Moore

EVANSTON, Ill. --- The lead character of Northwestern University’s upcoming stage production of “The Reluctant Dragon” (April 7-9) is a peaceful creature who prefers poetry, painting and a game of chess to attacking anyone in battle.

“The Reluctant Dragon” will be staged at 8 p.m. Friday, April 7; 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, April 8; and 2 p.m. Sunday, April 9, at the Josephine Louis Theater, 20 Arts Circle Drive, on the University’s Evanston campus. 

Featuring an eight-member student cast, the production also will tour Evanston area schools during a six-week period this spring.

Adapted for the stage by Mary Hall Surface and based on the book by Kenneth Grahame, who also wrote “The Wind In The Willows,” the family play will be directed by Northwestern theatre faculty member Lynn Kelso.

Prompted by the United Nations designation of 2000-2010 as a decade of peace and non-violence for the children of the world, Kelso selected this play to help children understand prejudice and to find ways to resolve conflict.

“With the world filled with turmoil and violence, many of us are full of fear,” said Kelso.

“We may fear monsters, high places, deep water, people who are different from us or animals.”

The dragon in Northwestern’s upcoming stage production lives in a cave near the town of Guildermere, where the town’s residents blame him for all of their troubles. When the youngest boy in the village befriends the dragon, he finds a peace-loving soul who writes poetry, paints, plays chess and drinks tea -- breaking all the stereotypes of what the villagers believe a dragon to be. 

“The play explores the power of friendship and how even the youngest of us can overcome fear,” said Kelso. “It has all the great components of a medieval fable -- a dragon, a knight and a child who becomes a hero.”

Duels between St. George (the knight) and the dragon and medieval dances are woven into the story. The stage set will re-create the “downs” -- the low grassy hills of England. The production is recommended for children aged 5 to 10 and adults.

Tickets are $20 for the general public; $18 for seniors and Northwestern faculty and staff; and $10 for students and children. For tickets, call (847) 491-7282 or visit <www.tic.northwestern.edu>.