On Oct. 19, Seton Hall Theatre will feature a performance of “Princess Puffery,” which is written and directed by Peter Reader, associate professor of theatre, as part of a tradition to perform a children’s play during Seton Hall weekend.
The play tells the story of Princess Puffery, a vain princess who has lost her charm and goes about looking for it in all the wrong places. The princess meets an ogre and is allowed to discover where her charm truly is.
“She goes through various trials,” Reader said. “She meets Sir Larry who tells her what to do, and she ignores the advice. She goes to the Woodsie Witch, and she ignores the Woodsie Witch’s advice. She gets robbed in the woods by the bandit who’s more charming than she is.”
“Princess Puffery” is not Reader’s first work as a playwright. He has written four scripts previously, but this production is his first time writing a children’s play.
“I really like this one,” Reader said. “This one came together well. I have a good cast of students, and they’re all kind of participating and trying to build it and create it.”
Since Reader is the playwright, he shared his thoughts on not reminding himself to mind the directions of the author, as he does for other productions.
“I think what’s more fun and empowering is that I wrote the play, and I can interpret the play and how it should be staged,” Reader said. “If I need to change something, I don’t have to think, ‘Oh will the playwright like what I’m doing?’ I’m like, ‘Well yeah because I need to fix something.’”
Other students described their excitement for the upcoming production. Olivia Ransbottom, a freshman theater major, is playing Princess Puffery. She explained her enjoyment of creating a production aimed at children.
“It’s really great because it combines different types of humor, but it’s good because it teaches you how to move a story along in a way that all the kids can understand what’s happening,” Ransbottom said. “You have to be over the top with it because they are kids. You have to react in a good way because kids know what’s funny and what isn’t.”
Despite the excitement, the cast said that they are unsure what to expect throughout the performance. Kevin Gartley, a sophomore theater major, described his role as a bandit in the play.
“This is the first kid’s show that I’m doing,” Gartley said. “I have a smaller part, which is nice, but it’s also a little nerve-racking because you never know with kids; they’re very unpredictable.”
Ransbottom said that she is happy that Reader is directing the production. She added that he allows for them to figure out the character. She pointed out that he helps by providing critiques of one’s character.
“He is an absolute icon,” Ransbottom said. “I love him. He’s really great because he lets you find the character and what you want to do with it. You’ll perform the scenes for him, and he’ll come in and say, ‘Well what if you try this?’ or ‘What is your motivation here?’”
Ransbottom explained that “Princess Puffery” is by no means a production that only children can enjoy, as the script includes humor for younger and older audiences alike.
Ransbottom said, “People should come to ‘Princess Puffery’ because it’s a lot of fun not only for the kids, but it’s also a lot of fun for the adults.”
“Princess Puffery” will be performed at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. in the Theatre-in-the-Round in the University Center on Oct. 19.
Liam Brucker-Casey can be reached email@example.com.