Two familiar children’s stories – Cinderella and Hansel and Gretel – are reimagined with a Southern Appalachian twist in “Stories My Kinfolk Told to Me,” an original play being performed by Forest Park High School students this week.
R. Rex Stephenson, a professor at Ferrum College and the most published children’s playwright in Virginia, granted Forest Park permission to perform the play for the first time.
Lori Spitzer-Wilk, a Forest Park English and drama teacher, was a student of Stephenson’s. He’s the author of several “Jack Tales,” Appalachian folktales, as well as plays with strong female characters.
The Forest Park production is interactive and geared for a young audience, but the stories have a universal appeal. Performing the play is a unique opportunity for students to learn more about Southern Virginia culture and to try their hands at an original script, Spitzer-Wilk said.
Students are “excited to be able to premiere this play because all other presentations of it in the future will compare to Forest Park’s,” said senior Daniel Sims, 18. “It’s nerve-wracking because none of us are thinking on a kid’s level, but we will respond to the reaction they give us during the play and give it back to them.”
“These are two well-known stories that people know the gist of,” added sophomore Alexis Kuzins, 15. “I think kids will be interested and excited.”
Stories My Kinfolk Told To Me: Performances at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 5; Thursday, April 6; and Friday, April 7, at Forest Park High School, 15721 Forest Park Drive, Woodbridge.
Tickets are $5 and will be sold at the door.