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Black Hawk Children's Theatre presents.......

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing

Based on the novel by Judy Blume; adapted by Bruce Mason. This production is produced by John Deere by arrangement with TYA Publishers. It is directed by Anita Ross; costumes designed by Danielle Mason; Sets and Lights designed by Brad Brist. The technical director is Geoff Ehrendreich.

The Story:

Peter Hatcher has so many problems! In attempting to write an essay about his life as a fourth grader, he gets a chance to share all his problems. He mediates disputes between his friends Jimmy Fargo and Sheila Tubman; he argues with his parents about how they ignore or mistreat him; finally, he has to endure the hijinks of his annoyingly cute little brother, Fudge. Not only is Fudge annoyingly cute, he also wrecks Peter's life with his constant meddling. Since Peter is the older brother, he is often called on to helpful big brother. Through telling his story about the people in his life and others in his neighborhood, Peter discovers much about himself and the world around him.

The Characters & Cast:

PETER HATCHER.......Jonathan Kuehner.....St. Patrick's School ­ Cedar Falls MRS. ANN HATCHER........Emily Dalluge.......Union High School MR. WARREN HATCHER........Kyle Wiebers.....NU High School FUDGE.....Jenna Shott.....St. Edward's Catholic - Waterloo SHEILA TUBMAN.....Hannah Smith.....Central Middle School JIMMY FARGO.....Sam Wright.....Hoover Middle School MR. YARBY/STAGE PARENT/DR. CONE.....Geoff Miller.....Valley Lutheran MRS. YARBY/STAGE PARENT.....Abbie Buhr.....Waverly Shall Rock NURSE/JANET.....Abigail Staples.....Hoover Middle School DR. BROWN/MS. DENBERG.....Madeline Nicol.....Holmes Junior High MR. BERMAN/MR. VINCENT.....Dan Wright......local pediatrician

The cast and crew enjoy receiving your letters. If you wish to write about your experiences, please send your thoughts to us at: Black Hawk Children's Theatre C/o Anita Ross 224 Commercial St. Waterloo, IA 50704

The Author: Judy Blume

Born in 1938 in Elizabeth, New Jersey, popular author Judy Blume uses her own life experiences as material for her novels. During one interview about her writing, Blume recalled, "I spent most of my childhood making up stories inside my head." She started writing those stories when her own children were in preschool. She published her first novel The One in the Middle is the Green Kangaroo in 1969. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing was published in 1972. She is very favored author among children and young adults having published 28 books and her stories have been translated into thirty-one different languages. She has also written for adult audiences. As an avid reader she knows how important it is to write about kids and their experiences. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing was inspired by a newspaper clipping of a toddler swallowing a turtle. Her publisher encouraged her to adapt her picture book idea about that event into a story in a chapter book. The popular Fudge Series was introduced. Other books in this series include: Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great, Superfudge, Fudge-A-Mania, and Double Fudge. Judy Blume has won over ninety literary awards recognizing both for her work in children's and young adult literature as well as her contributions to the American Cultural Heritage. She continues to write and recently published the latest installment in her Pain and the Great One Series. You can find more information about Judy Blume including a list of her books and an up-to-date blog at her website

Adapting a Story into a Play:

Turning a novel into a play ­ known as adapting ­ can be tricky business. Live theatre is creative in a different sort of way and we can't possibly tell all of the stories in the novel in the time we have available. To help this, the playwright may change things to help audiences enjoy the show. Some of the ways a novel may be adapted include: · · · Characters and events may be combined, simplified, or eliminated. Characters and events may be added. Settings may be simplified to avoid complicated scenery changes.

Think about the changes you might make in Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. What would you add or change to make it into a play? After watching the performance, think about it again. Did you agree with playwright, Bruce Mason? What other ideas do you have about his adaptation?

Be a Playwright:

· Write your own paragraph about a problem. It could be something as simple as your mother trying to make you eat lima beans or your little sister sneaking into your room to read your books. Share your story with a friend and start acting out the story. You will have to make-up all the things you say to each other. In the theatre, we call this improvising. Hint: you may want to record what happens in the scene to remember it clearly. Write the script for the scene. A script will identify when each character speaks and what they say. It looks like this:

CHARACTER A: I did not say that! CHARACTER B: You did too. You said we could go swimming if I ate everything on my plate! CHARACTER A: I did not say everything!



· ·

Rehearse the play with your friend a few times. Perform for your family and other friends!

What were some of the challenges in writing your play? How long did it take to adapt the paragraph after you started working with your friend? Which took longer ­ acting out your script or reading the paragraph out loud? What was the best thing about working as a playwright?

Be a Designer:

In the play, Fudge doesn't like the pair of shows his mother buys for him. Can you design a shoe that will be Fudge-worthy and he'll love.

Live Theatre:

Live theatre is different than TV or movies. The biggest difference is the audience. As an audience member you become an important part of our production. If we don't have you....we don't have a performance; it's just another rehearsal. We hope you will be ready to play your very important role in our production. During a television program, you may leave the room or visit with family and friends. A play or movie is different because, even though you may laugh and clap at appropriate moments, you are expected to remain in your sit and enjoy the performance without talking to your neighbor. Some other ways plays are different: Plays last longer than a 30 minute show. To appreciate and understand plays you have to concentrate on what the actors are saying and doing. Actors are in the same room as the audience so they are affected by what the audience is doing. They can hear and see the audience as they are trying to enjoy the show. Other audience members will be distracted by talking, extra noises and movement. For Teachers: the following are other hints to make this a great experience: Please plan on arriving 15 minutes before the show begins so we may easily and efficiently seat you, your class, and everyone else. It will help you avoid feeling rushed and allows everyone to get settled before the show begins. Please wait for an usher to lead you to your seats and help all get seated. Teachers, we ask that you get your seat first then move students to accommodate your classroom needs. Please remind students that it is respectful to applaud for the work of the actors. It is rude, however, to scream and shout when the lights dim. Please stay for our question and answer session following the performance. The cast and crew enjoy talking about their show, their work and their experiences.

Pre-Performance Activities:

1. Read the novel- or parts of the novel ­ Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. Discuss the characters in the story and talk about why Peter feels like insignificant or unimportant. Talk about how difficult it can be when Fudge is hogging the spotlight in so many ways. Discuss sibling rivalry and how it shows up in Peter's life. Discuss ways that Peter's mom does her best to assure Peter he is something very special. Have the kids write a short story or draw a picture of a time that they felt unimportant and what they did to start feeling better.

2. Many of the lines in the play come directly from words the characters say in the book. Some of them were written when the play was adapted. All of them tell stories about the characters and who they are. Listen for some of these lines: FUDGE: Eat it or wear it! Eat it or wear it! MOM: You don't hate him. You just think you do. PETER: Mom doesn't love me anymore. She doesn't even like me. Maybe I'm not her real son. Maybe somebody left me in a basket on her doorstep. My real mother's probably a beautiful princess or a movie start or a famous politician. I'll bet she'd like to have me back. What do these lines suggest about the characters? What are some of the different ways the characters may say these lines? Try some different ways and see how each one feels as you say them differently.

Post Performance Activities& Discussions:

1. Read one of or parts of the other novels in the Judy Blume's Fudge Series. Compare and contrast the Hatcher family at different stages in their lives. How have the two brothers changed? How have they stayed the same? Is sibling rivalry still a part of their lives? 2. Have the kids write a description of a brother. sister, friend. What are the qualities they admire? What are the qualities they find irritating? 3. "Fudge" is Farley's nickname. Peter also wants to refer to him as "Fang" but his mother doesn't like it? Does anyone in the class have a nickname? Who chose that name? If the kids got to choose a nickname for themselves, what would it be? 4. Peter and Jimmy argue with Sheila about their school project. Do you think they reached a good compromise? What are some of the things Peter did to make the situation better? What are some other options he could have chosen? 5. Toward the end of the play, Peter says that he's "a fourth grade nothing." We know then that the play deals with Peter and his self-esteem. Try the following exercise with your class to help them understand how important and unique they are. Have your students interview another student in the class. They may ask questions like: What is your full name? When and where were you born? What is your favorite sport, food, song, TV show? What hobbies do you enjoy? Have each student then present their mates in way that will make them feel special and important. 6. Discuss the concept of responsibility. What things does Peter do to show he is responsible? What do the kids think he could have done differently? What are your students' responsibilities in terms of schoolwork, family, chores, etc? Do they have more responsibilities now or when they were younger? Do they get rewards (for example, an allowance) for acting responsibly? Should they get these incentives?


Tales of A Fourth Grade Nothing Study Guide

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