Friday, June 11, through Sunday, June 20
Davenport Junior Theatre, 2822 Eastern Avenue, Davenport IA
Davenport Junior Theatre wraps up its 69th season of theatre “for kids, by kids” with the organization's first in-person production in 15 months: the premiere of playwright Aaron Randolph III’s The True Tale of Robin Hood, a funny and exciting outdoor production, running June 11 through 20, that will be free for patrons and held outside on the Great Lawn of the Annie Wittenmyer Complex.
“If the past year has taught us anything,” says Junior Theatre's artistic director Ben Gougeon, “it’s the importance of community. Theatre has the power to bring people together, and while our virtual shows have been a blast, nothing beats audience and artists gathering in shared space. And while we’re certainly not fully out of the woods yet, we felt that we could safely host an outdoor production and event, and bring our community back together.”
Written by local author Randolph, whose other stage works for Junior Theatre have included The Emperor's New Clothes and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The True Tale of Robin Hood is based on the exploits of the legendary folk hero and takes place in advance of the nuptials between Prince John of Nottingham and Maid Marian of Sherwood. Prince John intends to use his marriage to line his pockets, while the fair Marian only wants fair treatment for her people. How far will she go to ensure their well-being? Will a certain bandit in green come to the rescue? And speaking of Robin Hood and the Merry Men, who are they, exactly? Randolph explores these questions in this lively script that tells us how the folk legend of Robin Hood really came to be.
Produced with the support of the Bechtel Trust and Heritage Landscape Design, The True Tale of Robin Hood involves 49 students from around the Quad Cities who range in age from 10 to 18, and who, while working with local professionals, will serve as the production's cast, technical crew, and front-of-house team. Junior Theatre's latest offering was set to have its premiere last May, only to be canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but director Zach Meyer says that working on the 2021 version has been a great process.
“Our actors have truly knocked it out of the park,” says Meyer, “with the show being outside in the heat, moving their set which is required to be taken down and set up every show, being masked, and creating fantastic characters. I am truly impressed with each and every student we have at Junior Theatre; they give it their all every time. It has been a pleasure to help them create this piece of art together, and our design team has also done a fantastic job with the costumes, set, props and sound.”
“More than anything, we want to engage our students and our community,” says Gougeon. “We’re focused on eliminating barriers for participation, so all this season’s shows have been free to audiences, and we will continue that going forward. Everyone deserves access to theatre.” With a laugh, he adds, “Donations will be accepted, of course, but we want everyone to be able to get in the door.”
All Grand Lawn presentations of The True Tale of Robin Hood will be preceded, an hour before each performance, by a miniature Renaissance Faire featuring games, contests, concessions, and a dunk tank in which students can dunk Junior Theatre faculty and staff.
Show times are 6:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays, and guests are encouraged to bring blankets, lawn chairs, and picnics. For more information on the free family event, call (563)888-2227 and visit DavenportJuniorTheatre.org.