USC Upstate News

USC Upstate Theatre Program Brings Live Theatre To Nearly 3,500 School Children With Performances Of “Little Red and the Hoods”

04- 09- 2009

Spartanburg, S.C. - Nearly 3,500 elementary and middle school students and their teachers and administrators will experience live theatre during the month of April thanks to an initiative of the theatre program at the University of South Carolina Upstate.

Little Red and the Hoods 2Twelve USC Upstate students are enrolled in Rich Robinson’s “Theatre For Youth” course this spring semester and all are involved in the community outreach initiative that is taking the production of Little Red and the Hoods to Fairforest Elementary School, Oakbrook Preparatory School, Fairforest Middle School, Gable Middle School, Chesnee Elementary School, Woodland Heights Elementary School, Arcadia Elementary School, and Roebuck Elementary. The cost to the schools is $1 per student.

“This is such a win-win opportunity for all involved,” said Robinson, associate professor of theatre at USC Upstate. “The children are being exposed to a live theatrical performance, many for the first time ever, and they are the most honest audience we could ever hope for. The theatre students are gaining hands-on experience with acting, stage managing and the technical aspects of theatre.

Little Red and the Hoods, a play written by Karen Boettcher-Tate, takes the beloved and timeless tale of Little Red Riding Hood and adding a new twist, turns it into a participatory comedy. A teaching module was designed and organized by Xavier Hernandez, a senior at USC Upstate, to assist classroom teachers in preparing their students for the live performance. The module provides discussion questions such as: why is teamwork important, what are code words, how are code words used, what does it mean to judge a book by its cover, what are some dangers in going out by yourself, what do you do if you can’t read as good as someone else, why is it important stay on task, and is it good to participate in a performance?

Little Red and the Hoods 1Robinson and his students kicked off their theatre tour on April 7 at Fairforest Elementary School to the delight of the students.

“Our students enjoyed the performance from start to finish,” said Stephen Krawczyk, principal of Fairforest Elementary School. “The play reinforced important life skills while engaging and entertaining our students. It was wonderful to see so many of our students included in the show. Each time that Rich brings his students to Fairforest, it is a treat for our school. It is a blessing to have such a wonderful resource right here in Spartanburg.”

In the story of Little Red and the Hoods, Little Red Riding Hood is on an adventure to share her mother’s new cookie recipe with her grandmother. Before departing, Little Red’s mom equips her with a secret safe word that should be used to separate strangers from people she can trust. Little Red meets her first danger in Ma Sugar Lump, a nasty manipulating opportunist who devises a plan to get the cookie recipe after stealing a cookie from Little Red’s batch. Ma Sugar Lump cannot succeed on her own so she will try and employ her audience to commit her crimes, along with her secret weapon, Harry Wolf.

As Little Red is on her journey the secret word becomes more important when it helps her avoid a ride from a stranger. Harry Wolf is too clever to let the secret word keep him at bay, so he devises a plan to race Little Red for the cookie recipe. This race sends Little Red the wrong way and Harry Wolf makes it to Granny’s house first, locking her up in a box! He then disguises himself and waits for Little Red to meet her fate but just as it seems Little Red is doomed, Granny appears to save her. Granny and Little Red break up the gang of hoods and decide to teach Harry Wolf a lesson.

They have a letter for punishment that can only be delivered by “The Official Brave Person” who just so happens to be seated in the audience. This letter is given to Wolf and he reveals his saddest, deepest secret. He can’t read! Wolf’s life of bad deeds all stems from his inability to read. Granny promises to teach him how to read if Wolf can leave that life behind and straighten up. He happily agrees and even gets some cookies out of the deal! Little Red Riding Hood discovers that you can’t always judge a book by its cover.

The cast for Little Red and the Hoods include: Michelle Ellis as Little Red Riding Hood, Ciara Brown as Granny, Danette Gains as Maggie/Mom, Daniel Gorski as Nathaniel The Narrator, Cory Granner as Harry Wolf, Jessica Howard as Zelda, Richard Mahler as Assistant, Amber Smallwood as Assistant, Nicole Stiles as Stephanie The Narrator, and Simone Winn as Mrs. Weaslebud/Ma Sugar Lump.

Rich Robinson is the director, Chandler Boyer is the stage manager, and Josh Geddings is the technical director. For additional information, contact Rich Robinson, associate professor of theatre, at (864) 503-5621 or