Pied Piper of Lawrence

I was sponsored for 5 years by the Kansas Arts Commission (until it was disbanded by Governor Brownback) to present an afternoon workshop and evening concert of original music and storytelling. I would start with an afternoon Children's Theater Workshop, then the workshop kids would join me for an early evening performance. I would start with a short concert of original songs, then end with a theatrical reading of The Pied Piper of Hamelin, by Robert Browning. The kids played the part of the rats, scampering about wearing cute mouse ears.

The Experts Say...

"The Satanta Arts Council has hosted many performers from the touring roster, and Carter Performers have been among the best received in our community."
Karen Burrows, Satanta Arts Council, Sat anta, Kansas
"I loved the song where the rats come in.
I still sing the song A LOT!"
Madeline, age 5, Satanta, Kansas
"Carter Performers surpassed our expectations. Larry and his crew communicated expertly with the children and treated them with respect and professionalism."
Gail Parsons, Junction City Arts Council, Junction City

Children's Theater Workshop and Concert
Great Bend, Kansas
Sponsored by Barton County Arts Council and the Kansas Arts Commission. Photos by Don Shorock.

Children's Theater Workshop

The Pied Piper of Lawrence

Going over their part

In 1842, the great English poet Robert Browning wrote a poem telling the very old story of The Pied Piper of Hamelin. This well-known story relates how the Town Council of Hamelin refused to pay a piper after he rid them of a plague of rats, so he spirited off their children to a magical cave. He and the children rushed inside and were supposedly never seen again.

Browning's story, although accurate as far as it goes, is, unfortunately, incomplete. What happened next after the piper and children entered the cave? His illustrator, Kate Greenaway, apparently knew more about the story since we see in one of the final illustrations children dancing in a meadow around a cherry tree, a scene that obviously isn't taking place inside the cave. For that matter, why did all those rats suddenly invade Hamelin in the first place? Browning wrote a masterful poem, but he apparently didn't know the rest of the story.

There is a character so sneaky that Browning apparently didn't know he even existed - the Rat Master. He had an old grudge with the city of Hamelin for driving him out of town for befriending rats. He got his revenge by sending the rats to Hamelin, then tricking a piper into bringing the children to his cave. He was outwitted by the courage of the girl the original story calls the "Child on Crutches" who befriended the Piper and, with him, rescued the children from the cave.

Borrowing from the vaudeville tradition, we start with a pre-show concert where each actor performs a short musical piece by way or introduction. Then we present the one-act musical melodrama. The audience CHEERS ON THE HEROINE (the "Girl on Crutches") and HISSES AT THE VILLAIN (the Rat Master). Good triumphs over evil and everyone - even the Rat Master - lives happily ever after.

Larry Carter, Artistic Director

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