Swinging into Action with Robin Hood

VIP Seating at tech rehearsal

ROBIN: He robs from the rich to give to the poor. As a rich person, I can see how you'd find that threatening. But the poor call it justice.

This weekend, the kiddo and I took a trip down south for the opening of my adaptation of Robin Hood at Serenbe Playhouse.  As is always the case with the playhouse, they pulled out all the stops, staging the show in an actual forest with ziplines. Ziplines! Robin makes his entrance flying over the audience and somersaulting into a sword fight, slinging wisecracks left and right.

Studying up on airline safety
I am always amazed by how things come together in a theater. Working on a show, there is almost always a moment when it seems like everything is going to be a disaster. But, there's some sort of alchemy that happens when you've got a team of people working so hard and so well that transforms all this raw potential into a real show. I was blown away by the apprentice company and the creative team at the Playhouse and how they made the show happen. The apprentice company in particular has an insanely short rehearsal period, and to get everyone up and flying and fighting and wisecracking and telling this fun, timely story was a massive undertaking. Holy crap are they good.

My baby assistant and I came in a few days before opening, so I got the chance to do some script tweaks and watch the show come together. So much of this piece is physical, there are zip line passes and staff fights and sword fights, and it was immensely helpful to be able to see the action in order to craft some good action one lines, and some groan worthy ones too.

For example, in the final battle between Robin and the Sheriff, Robin Hood finds an axe in the bushes discarded from a previous scene. "Ah!" he says. "Just what I axed for!"


But seriously, that dumb axe joke made me inordinately happy, and the mix of appreciation, groans, and appreciative groans that greeted it in performance was immensely satisfying.

The Kiddo was impressed by our swashbuckling ladies
One thing that Serenbe Playhouse and I really sought to do with this story was to put the women front and center. In a way, this adaptation is really Marian's story. She's the one who undergoes the biggest journey and discover who she is and what she stands for. True, Robin Hood's name is on the tin, but she carried the beating heart of the story. And because the company has gender parity, half of the fighting was done by women, and that was, frankly, super cool to see.

The Kiddo, who has liked stage violence since she was in the womb (she kicked along with the cannons in Hamilton), was instantly captivated by the fight call, standing at the very edge of her Pack'n'Play, hanging on their every move.

Not so sure about this Sheriff of Nottingham
After the show, I saw so many little girls run up to these actors, their little eyes shining, basking in the joy of their badassery. I was particularly struck by a pair of little girls in Wonder Woman t-shirts brandishing their toy swords. They ran up to Scarlet Will (our gender-swapped Will Scarlet), their coordinating red and blue hair bows bouncing, and I just about died. Hell yes, little girls with bows and swords. Bows and swords for everyone! I am so, so pleased to have added a couple more badass ladies to their canon.

My favorite part of writing for young audiences is watching them watch the show. The Playhouse often lays out blankets at the front of their seating banks for the kiddos to huddle up on, and I always try to sit as close as I can so I can listen in. I remember how voraciously I devoured stories at that age, and I fell so privileged to get to tell those stories. This adaptation in particular is one that I'm really proud of, and I think its message of justice being doing right by your fellow human being feels like an important story to tell kids.

The fact that it's told with humor and fun and adventure and sweet badass sword fights is just extra delicious icing on the cake. The second show, I was behind a maybe eight year old boy who left his seat literally vibrating with excitement. "It was awesome! It was so awesome!!" he squealed. "This the BESSSTTT!!" You can't get much better feedback than that.

MARIAN: They say I won’t do anything because I am a good girl. But a good person does what is right, not what is easy. I have to listen to my heart. That is where you tell me what is right. And what is right is to stand up and be brave. To protect my fellow human beings. To save Scarlet from the executioner’s block. I have to find Robin Hood!

Kudos Apprentice Company!


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