Acadiana Theatre to Host Debut: Child Actors Create Characters
● By Paris Brewster
Written by Paris Brewster
Get ready to embark on a whimsical journey of adventure, as the enchanting tale of ‘The Infinite Pages’ unfold. Slip away into the magical world of Terra Biblio and journey along with its characters as they determine the fate of this magical locale while the secret of “The Infinite Pages” are revealed. This genuine masterpiece was created by playwright, Cody Daigle and its characters cleverly orchestrated to suit each young actor specifically.
“‘The Infinite Pages’ is a magical tale of fun and adventure,” says Daigle. “It is a story with heart that promises something of value to take home for every member of the family.”
Cody’s inspiration for “The Infinite Pages” evolved from a short story written by Alfred Noyes, called the “The Midnight Express.” Just as “The Midnight Express” takes its readers on a twisted adventure of mythical proportions, the storyline for “The Infinite Pages” is also compiled of as much conjuring enchantment for its audience. According to Daigle, the stories ending twist ensures enlightenment and contemplative thought.
“The audience will come away from this with some thoughts on the power of family,” states Daigle. “And how the stories we share can help us get through some pretty tough times.”
But there is much more behind the scenes of this whimsical production. Cody Daigle recognizes that most children interested in theatre desire to become an actor, even if they show interest in becoming a playwright. However, without prior writing experience the process of developing playwriting skills can be quite daunting for young theatre students. Daigle has masterminded a way to give his students the best of both worlds through a program called ‘Play Bridge.’
Play Bridge was creatively facilitated to teach young theatre students the skill of storytelling and playwriting while also engaging them in the joy of acting. As an example, “The Infinite Pages” was catered to the imagination of its (19) young actors ranging from the age of nine to sixteen. Each child created their own character while the storyline itself was then written by Daigle, enabling the children to engage in the process of playwriting while absorbing the experience without pressure.
“These kids get a role that was written for them specifically, with their input in mind. They feel a sense of ownership that way,” says Daigle. “The role and the show belong to them in a way that other theatre experiences don't.”
Daigle hopes that his students discover the significance of their creative voice through writing their own stories and plays and how that voice can affect audiences through the messages portrayed.
“Play Bridge is more than simply theatre. It's acknowledging the creative voice within the young actor, while affirming its significance to the rest of the world,” says Daigle. “It’s teaching students how to manifest their creative ideas into a form of expressive art through theatre.”
Such as it is in life, each actor takes home something from their personal experiences. Some discover something new about themselves personally, while others learn how to observe life from a different perspective, but everyone develops character within themselves through the lessons they have learned. Regardless, each experience becomes a valuable lesson along the way.
Meet the actors:
Reese McDaniel –Community and Reverence
Fourteen year old, Reese McDaniel, who plays ‘The Watcher,’ says that acting has strengthened his confidence and has taught him to accept individuality within others. He enjoys the sense of unity and family that he receives when he is around his theatre peers.
“It is a family where we accept one another for who were really are,” states McDaniel. Reese has been with Play Bridge for one year and “The Infinite Pages” will be his sixth theatre production.
Annette Diaz-Creativity and the Freedom of Expression
Twelve year old, Annette Diaz plays Maria Nobody and enjoys the creativity and imagination behind acting. Play Bridge has given Annette the freedom of expression that she desires.
“You get the chance to express your own ideas,” says Diaz. “And they take it into consideration.”
Annette has discovered through her character, Maria that everyone expresses love in their own individual way and her own personal love language is protecting her loved ones and accepting others for who they are individually even if she does not totally agree with or understand their choices in life.
Diaz was inspired by a desire to protect those she loves when she created her character, Maria.
“I remember when I created Maria, I thought to myself, "She's going to be the eldest. She is going to be strong and protect her younger siblings,” says Diaz. “So I guess the inspiration was a desire to protect my loved ones.”
Rio Airhart- Hard Work and Diversity
Ten year old, Rio Airhart plays Shraa Corn, a first grade dropout who is psychic with an evil nature. She finds that creating her own character makes acting the part easier because she is familiar with the characteristics of her character ahead of time.
“Play Bridge has taught me that anything worthwhile takes hard work,” says Airhart. “One thing I have learned is to project my voice when microphones are not readily available.”
Airhart plans to continue her path in Theatrical Arts and is delighted to express herself theatrically in a character that is her polar opposite.
Will Hargrave-Teamwork and Flexibility
Eleven year old, Will Hargrave plays Xander and has enjoyed working as a group with ‘Play Bridge’ and the cast of ‘The Infinite Pages.’ Like the other young actors, Will has also enjoyed the fact that his ideas may be used in the play.
“It was really cool to have an idea and see it in a script and on stage,” says Will. “But sometimes, good ideas are not able to be used and the actor should never allow that to disappoint them.”
Speaking from experience, Hargrave’s own character role in the play was suddenly changed from the one that he created to a character that was created for another child who is now unable to participate.
“The new character is a little different because he is not the one that I had created for myself which was similar to me,” says Will. “But, I actually find it fun because I get to play a different type of role.”
Isabel –Consideration and Family
Thirteen year old, Isabel has been performing with Play Bridge for two years. She plays a defiant teenager and says that as a teenager herself, she can totally relate to her character.
“What teenager would not relate to her,” says Isabel.
Isabel has learned through her character that sometimes the needs of others come first and by doing what is best for others the end result will be for the greater good of all involved.
Isabel values the lesson of teamwork and treasures the friendships she has made through Play Bridge.
“I have learned that just because we are not related by blood, does not mean that you are not family,” says Isabel. “I love the people that I perform with. We are family.”
“The Infinite Pages” will debut from March 21th -23rd at Theatre 810, located at 810 Jefferson Street in Lafayette. Call Theatre 810 at (337) 484-0172 for more information on pricing and directions.
Performance times are as follows:
p.m. on Friday
3:00 p.m. Matinee on Saturday
7:30 p.m. Saturday evening
3 p.m. on Sunday
‘The Infinite Pages’ will also be touring at the Delta Grand Theatre in Opelousas on March 28-30. Call 337-407-1806 for pricing and directions.
Performance times are as follows:
7:00 p.m. Saturday
2:00 p.m. Sunday
“The Infinite Pages” credits:
Playwright by Cody Daigle
Directed by Walter Brown
Produced by Marie Delahoussaye-Diaz and Acting Unlimited, Inc Lafayette, Louisiana
Presented by Delta Grand Theatre, Opelousas, Louisiana and Theatre 810, Lafayette, Louisiana