Shakespeare Festival’s Latest Production for Kids Opens up a Dialogue About Divorce

Watching their parents go through a divorce can leave children confused, sad and angry. But to remain strong for their family and friends, so many kids bottle up their emotions, scared what might happen if they let the world know how they really feel.

But through its award-winning Education Tour, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis is giving the Bard himself the chance to open the doors to communication – to let kids know it’s ok to let those feelings out and to help their classmates understand the challenges they’re facing. With the newly-commissioned play Found at Sea, playwright-in-residence Nancy Bell explores the relationship between a father and his young daughter with humor and wit, with the works of Shakespeare blended in.

Now through April 16, the Festival will bring Bell’s production – along with a retelling of Julius Caesar – to 65 schools throughout the metro area and rural Missouri. And on March 18, they’ll join Kids in the Middle (KITM), a nonprofit that helps children, parents and families thrive during and after divorce, for a special presentation to discuss what young people face when the two most special people in their lives are separating.

Helping children connect to Shakespeare and with each other

Since 2002, the Festival has delivered educational programming to more than 300,000 students throughout the state, giving many kids their first taste of both live theater and Shakespeare. In addition to spotlighting works that tackle the topics affecting kids today, the Festival offers student workshops, providing tools that allow kids to solve the moral dilemmas plaguing Shakespeare’s characters and to write their own theatrical masterpieces.

The Festival’s latest presentation, Found at Sea, directed by Rick Dildene, explores the relationship between a dad and his daughter Marnie, a little girl who’s grappling with the news of her parents’ divorce. As a storm rages outside their window, the father uses their shared love of Shakespeare’s stories, including King Lear, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Pericles, to show that family and love always endure, no matter what obstacles stand in their way.

By importing Shakespeare’s swashbuckling heroes, daring adventures and enduring comedy into her work, Bell tackles a tough subject with humor, giving kids an opening to share their experiences with each other.

“There’s really two things I want kids to walk away with after seeing the performance,” said Bell. “First, that’s it’s ok to talk about your feelings with a grown up or someone you trust. That’s really hard for kids – sometimes they just don’t have words for what they’re going through. It can really feel scary and risky. Second, I want kids to understand that their parents are still their parents and will always be there for them. You’re held in by a family, even though your parents are divorced.”

To ensure they was cognizant of the different emotions the story can stir up, Festival staff partnered with KITM to get their expert opinions on the delivery of the message and to offer resources about adjusting to divorce to teachers, students and families at every performance. On March 18 at 2 p.m., the Festival will spotlight a free public presentation of Found at Sea at the St. Louis Public Library Central Branch location, followed by a talkback and Q& A session with Randi Borroff, MSW, LCWS, ACSW, clinical supervisor and community outreach counselor at KITM.

According to Borroff, Found at Sea offers “absolute hope” to everyone who watches it. “The play does a great job of modeling how the conversation between a parent and child should go. The father creatively finds ways to connect with his daughter as he always has. He reiterates how much he loves her, he doesn’t get defensive, and he doesn’t badmouth her mom. It’s really a lovely way to show how relationships can work in this situation.”

For Bell, whose own family faced divorce and benefited from the services of KITM, Found at Sea is truly a work from the heart.

“The play is in some ways a love letter to my daughter and my daughter’s father. I wanted to lay out the vision that a divorced family is still a family, even if they don’t live together. Everyone who has co-parented knows you still function as a family, and we still think of ourselves in that way. Kids need to know that even in the middle of a divorce, you still have loved ones who are there for you and that you’ll always be connected with.”

 

Share This Story

Metro East mom Nicole Plegge is the lifestyle and pop culture blogger for STL Parent. Besides working as a freelance writer & public relations specialist, and raising two daughters and a husband, Nicole's greatest achievements are finding her misplaced car keys each day and managing to leave the house in a stain-free shirt. Her biggest regret is never being accepted to the Eastland School for Girls. Follow Nicole on Twitter @STLWriterinIL 

Our Daily Things to Do email is the easiest way to plan your day.
Follow Us
   
Want daily ideas of things to do? How about special offers & giveaways? Sign up and we’ll handle the rest.
Things to Do

Preschool Science at the Saint Louis Science Center
Tuesday, October 22, 2019
Monday, November 11, 2019
Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Engage your young scientist in science-related learning at the Saint Louis Science Center's Preschool Science Series. Through interactive stories and hands-on exploration, children learn about science, as well as language, problem-solving and social skills.

View this event »
Tuesday Tails
Tuesday, October 22, 2019
Tuesday, October 29, 2019
Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Visit the Animal Protective Association (APA) of Missouri for a free story time for preschoolers and help foster their love of animals.

View this event »
Boo at the Zoo Nights
Tuesday, October 22, 2019
Wednesday, October 23, 2019
Thursday, October 24, 2019

Explore the St. Louis Zoo after dark at Boo at the Zoo. Bring your little ghouls and goblins to this non-scary celebration designed just for kids. Though this is not a trick-or-treating experience, costumes are encouraged, and each child 12 and under will receive a treat bag when they leave.

View this event »
You Might Also Like...

From Our Sponsors
Popular Stories

St. Louis Has Supersized Halloween This Year! Here's Your Guide to Tons of Freaky Family Fun

When it comes to Halloween fun, St. Louis has always been a bit . . . extra. Lucky for those of us who can't get enough of monsters, ghosts and goblins, this year is no different! Break out your best costumes and get ready for some spooky, mostly not-so-scary Halloween fun for you and your little pumpkins, because we found more than 60 ways to celebrate the spookiest of seasons. 

Continue reading »
7 St. Louis Area Pumpkin Patches Your Kids Will Love

It’s not really fall in St. Louis until you get lost in a corn maze or find that perfect pumpkin in a field of thousands. Thankfully, no matter where you live in the region, there’s a local farm right in your backyard offering a variety of autumn-themed attractions perfect for every member of the family, from toddlers to teens.

Continue reading »
8 Ways for Families to Play in St. Louis this October

October’s not all ghouls and goblins! There are plenty of spook-free festivals, activities and events that will keep your children entertained all month long, from family-friendly Oktoberfest celebrations where they can polka their hearts out to theater performances that will keep them glued to their seats.
 
Continue reading »
Play Street Museum Brings Kid-Sized Fun to The Streets of St. Charles

With its shops and restaurants, The Streets of St. Charles has become the go-to for grown-ups in the region. But now kids have a place here to call their own at Play Street Museum.

Continue reading »
Accumulating Children: A Beginner's Guide

The key to successfully going from one, to two, to three kids is really just learning how to determine whose immediate need is more life-threatening. Plus, you stop judging parents who put their kids on leashes.

Continue reading »
Follow Us