Tiger Arts Guild ready to tell Stories in the Dark

(Photo submitted by Jody Tartt) The unique puppets, made with the assistance of guest artist Garland Farwell, will be a prominent feature of Stories in the Dark.

(Photo submitted by Jody Tartt)
The unique puppets, made with the assistance of guest artist Garland Farwell, will be a prominent feature of Stories in the Dark.

Demopolis High School’s Tiger Arts Guild will roll out its annual Halloween production this weekend when it performs Stories in the Dark.

“The play includes stories from a wide range of authors such as The Brothers Grimm, and folklorists Ruby Pickens Tartt and Alvin Schwartz to poems by Shel Silverstein and Heinrich Hoffmann,” Demopolis High drama instructor Jody Tartt said. “All of the stories have a spooky or humorous theme as children’s stories can sometimes be a bit on the macabre side.”

The production will be executed in a series of short stories that will each range from two to five minutes in length.

As has become customary of Tiger Arts Guild productions, the show will feature the work of a guest artist. In this instance, the guild has turned to Garland Farwell of BlackBeltMurals.com.

“He has had work displayed in the Atlanta Puppet Museum and has worked with Heather Henson, Jim Henson’s daughter,” Tartt said. “I’ve always wanted to work with him on puppets because I doubt few students here have ever seen puppets quite like his. Garland and I had several meetings and decided an original project was the way to go and a Fall show seemed to lend itself to spooky stories. We shared ideas with one another about particular children’s stories and surveyed my students and picked the ones we liked best.”

The puppets may well be the most unique feature of the production as Tartt expects them to be all but scene-stealers when the production opens.

“We have three that are over 10 feet tall, one large body puppet and another puppet on wheels that is around eight feet tall, a snake puppet about 15 feet long, much like a Chinese dragon puppet, and over 20 life size ghost puppets on rods,” Tartt said. “It has been an enormous amount of work creating and building puppets with the theatre students, but the end result is very impressive. We have two stories told through the art of shadow puppetry and Derrick Robertson has worked with us to create a wonderful shadow puppet box, since lighting is tricky when working with that medium, so we have a wide variety in the show. Everything in our production has been built and created by Theatre II Design, Theatre II Acting, and some Intro to Theatre students. I have a very talented group of design students and am proud of their hard work and contribution of ideas and creativity to this project.”

The production will feature a strong cross-section of the student body with varied interests and talents, something the Tiger Arts Guild perennially attempts to achieve in its performances.

“We have a few seniors, several band members and cheerleaders and a dancer, so our cast is well rounded and there are a great number of newcomers,: Tartt said. “Therefore, I felt this show would work well with the range of experience we have in the cast. I tried to utilize all of their abilities. We have our own pit band that uses their instruments to create original sound effects and music and a dancer on point shoes in one story. It is just wonderful to see the array of abilities our students develop in other areas of the fine arts and how theatre becomes a synthesis of those art forms.”

The show opens Friday at 7 p.m. at the Demopolis High School Performing Arts Center. Admission is $5 each. The show will resume Saturday at 7 p.m. and close Sunday at 2 p.m.

The cast features:

Sydney Pettus

Reid Claire Stein

Meredith Hill

Mary Odum Luke

Ke’Chyria Wheeler

Allison Polk

Catherine Akins

Summer Earle

Jackie Figueroa

Porsha Thomas

Stormie Gay

Ashley Minor

Kyla Smith

Andy Tarpley

Garrett Miller

Mike Closson

Jed Jones

Tyler Courtney

Alex Boxmeyer

Brian Tripp

Christopher Hoven

Tristan Mullen

Hunter Lewis

Tyler Ward

Sam Valez

Terrance Allen

CREW: Taylor Cooper,Gregory Harvey, Joseph Wilson, Kevin Krepps, Kathleen Saliba