Austin Playhouse’s New Play Premieres at Sugar Land Auditorium Before Two-Week Run in Scotland

Acting roles in Struwwelpeter are Spencer Stocks, Nadia Belaouchi, Kathryn Victory, Cristina Lodico, Christopher Gonzalez, Charlotte Harris and Benjamin Rauls. 

Acting roles in Struwwelpeter are Spencer Stocks, Nadia Belaouchi, Kathryn Victory, Cristina Lodico, Christopher Gonzalez, Charlotte Harris and Benjamin Rauls.

By Chad P. Muska –

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe, also referred to as simply The Fringe, is the world’s largest arts festival and takes place every August for three weeks in Scotland’s capital city.

Each year thousands of performers take to a multitude of stages in venues all over Edinburgh – ranging from traditional theaters to spaces as non-traditional as a double-wide trailer – to present a tremendously vast array of shows, representing every genre and style imaginable. From big names in the world of entertainment to unknown artists, the festival caters to everyone and includes theatre, comedy, dance, physical theatre, musicals, operas, music, exhibitions and events.

The Fringe began in 1947, when eight theatre groups turned up uninvited to perform at the then newly formed Edinburgh International Festival, an initiative created to celebrate and enrich European cultural life in the wake of the Second World War. In 2012, the festival spanned 25 days totaling over 2,695 shows from 47 countries in 279 venues. At the 2012 festival, 36% of shows were comedy and 28% theatrical productions. Theatrical productions range from the classics of ancient Greece to William Shakespeare, Samuel Beckett and contemporary works. In 2012, 1,418 shows were having their world premiere.

In August, Fort Bend’s own Austin High School Theatre Department, called Austin Playhouse, will, for the second time, be featured at the Fringe Festival. Austin Playhouse, which is comprised of Austin High School (AHS) theatre students under the artistic direction of AHS theatre director, Brad Cummons, made their Edinburgh debut in 2007, where they premiered an original script, Texodus. Texodus centered on the evacuation of Houston during 2005’s Hurricane Rita and explored the hardships and maladies faced by five families trapped in the nightmarish traffic.

At the 2013 Fringe Festival, Cummons and the Austin Playhouse will be showcasing another new work, Struwwelpeter. This original script was written by Brad Cummons, adapted from the dark German children’s book by Heinrich Hoffmann. The play’s ominous source material, Der Struwwelpeter or Shockheaded Peter, comprises ten illustrated and rhymed stories, mostly about children. Each has a clear moral that demonstrates the disastrous consequences of misbehavior in an exaggerated way. The stories have come to be known as “cautionary tales.”

Brad Cummons

Brad Cummons

Discussing the book, Cummons explained that “Hoffmann wrote Struwwelpeter in reaction to what he perceived as a lack of suitable books for his children. The tales are very dark as they tell the children what will happen if they don’t follow their parents’ instruction.”

Translated to the stage, the stories come to life through engaging characterization and an ingenious soundtrack that pays homage to the German cabaret of the 1920s. Hoffmann’s stories are told as a series of vignettes, guided by a pair of deviant narrators that observe, undetected by their fellow players, from within the action of the scenes. While Austin Playhouse’s production should be regarded as a wholly original work of its own, the adaptation does remain true to Hoffmann’s book.

“This show has really allowed us to be creative in our approach to the production  incorporating dance, movement, masks and lots of music. The whole show is a unique style that I seldom get a chance to work in.”

On July 26th at 7 pm, two days before departing for Scotland, Struwwelpeter will make its world premiere at Sugar Land Auditorium. This premier is a co-production between Austin Playhouse and Sugar Land Cultural Arts Foundation.

“Austin Theatre is so honored to have the opportunity to perform this new show for the first time in front of a Sugar Land audience,” said Cummons. “We hope to see lots of support from the Sugar Land community at this performance.”

The free performance is open to the public and will be followed by an audience “talk-back” and reception.

Austin Playhouse  & Sugar Land Cultural Arts Foundation present  Struwwelpeter

Friday, July 26th at 7 pm

Sugar Land Auditorium

226 Lakeview Drive