CST’s hit family musical returns to the theater Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare. Six students stuck in detention after school with an eccentric substitute teacher discover the power of imagination as they enact some of Aesop's tales, including "The Tortoise and the Hare" and "The Boy Who Cried Wolf."
Approximate Running Time: 60 minutes (no intermission)
"A Broadway-style riff on Aesop’s Fables."
– Chicago Tribune
"It will charm audiences ages 6 to 60."
– Chicago Sun-Times
How Can You Run with a Shell on Your Back? is part of the 2007 LaSalle Bank Family Festival of Plays.
How Can You Run with a Shell on Your Back? is presented in The Carl and Marilynn Thoma Theater.
Inspired by the enduring relevance of Aesop's classic fables, Alan Schmuckler and Michael Mahler chose three tales—"Androcles and the Lion," "The Ant and the Grasshopper," and "The Tortoise and the Hare"—stories that are more than 2,500 years old, to rediscover through the eyes of young people today.
How Can You Run with a Shell on Your Back? places Aesop's three tales into the hands of several unlikely—and seemingly unalike—storytellers: six young students who have been sent to after-school detention. There, the reluctant group is confronted with a substitute teacher named Mr. Sopperstein, who encourages them to spend their hour-sentence together by using their imaginations and exploring one of the library's books—Aesop's Fables. Resistant at first, the six come around as they take on the Aesop's characters and imprint the stories with their own points of view.
Like the characters they portray, the students represent archetypes we can all relate to. Daisy is the artistic goth-girl, who plays the fiddle and dresses just as she pleases. Jackson is the jock, as accustomed to bullying as he is to winning. Savannah is the popular fashion plate of the class, equipped with every accessory and, of course, a mirror. There's Ari, the class clown who wants to get everyone's attention (especially Savannah's), but isn't all that funny. Every class has a teacher's pet, and in this group she's an overachieving girl named Riley. The shy newcomer to the school is Howie, who is more comfortable in the company of books than he is with his new schoolmates.
Daisy, Jackson, Savannah, Ari, Riley and Howie all take one look at the beginning and size up each other: neither detention nor these other students have anything to do with them. But as they hesitantly take on roles and change the fables to suit their own personalities, they learn a lot about themselves and each other, and come to realize that, despite their differences, they share a lot in common. And in re-enacting Aesop's tales, they rediscover their imaginations and learn about compassion, generosity and responsibility.
– Contributed by the CST Education Department