National Theater – Play in a Box – The Strawberry Post
Title: Play in a box
Author: National Theater
Editor: walker books
Kind: Fun Activity Kit
The description: Find out how to create, direct and perform in your own play in this brilliant National Theater kit. Inside you’ll find everything you need to put on a show, including ideas and inspiration for characters, settings and plot, plus expert direction tips , costumes, makeup, props, sound and lighting. Contains 30 character cards, 8 scenery cards, plot booklet, 32-page staging manual and coloring book and tickets. This kit will be the perfect gift and provide hours of fun for all young actors, directors and theater lovers.
*Free copy provided by publisher for review…
Review: This is such a fun and great kit for any kid who loves the idea of acting or playing. The National Theater Play in a Box comes with several things inside: a booklet entitled “Stagecraft Handbook”, 30 character cards (including 2 blank ones), 8 scenery cards, a Plot Twist book, a program to fill in and to color and tickets to also fill in and color. All of the items in the box can be used by kids to play their own game, but I’ll break them down to make it easier to see what you’re actually getting. At the end, I’ll give my conclusion if you’d rather skip that.
This is the main book and its size and shape is around A5ish. It is a short booklet rather than a book and has glossy covers with thick glossy and very colorful pages inside. Although listed on Amazon as a hardcover, this refers to the box the kit comes in rather than the book.
On the first few pages of the book there are brief explanations of all the other things you get in this kit before moving on to the details of how to fit a part. It covers everything from choosing a story for your play, then the characters before moving on to costumes, designing props and how to actually act on stage. What I love about this book is how easy, simple and fun everything is. Rather than a lot of text that can seem boring, there are a lot of easy to understand images as well as text snippets. The book covers so many aspects of directing a play and although I know most of the tips and tricks that are explained here, having done a lot of theatrical work in the past, I still learned some things fun things you can do to create a certain feeling on stage or how to use big props like cars when you can’t have a car on stage! There are also some key words explained, which are used in real theater, such as foley, house and freeze, which makes the book more valuable because even I didn’t know what a ‘freeze’ was in the theater language.
The set of books is made even more fun by the fact that Billy the Backstage Cat, a funny cat character, is depicted throughout the book giving little extra information – I love children’s books that add that little bit More fun !
– Parameter Maps:
There are eight cards each with different settings. When trying to create a new story for a play, these cards are a great way to imagine a new setting. On one side is an image of the setting (which can be used as inspiration for a child’s own scene) while the other side of this setting has a brief explanation of the setting, as well as the sounds that you might hear, questions about what might happen in such a place and some practical tips on how to create that setting. Settings include an enchantment forest, Planet X, and a secret lab.
There are 28 cards that have characters on them. A character card has an image of a character such as an astronaut called Commander Mo Meteor on one side with text about them on the back. The text suggests what type of character they are along with suggestions for what they are, what they think, and some tips on how to make this character real, like bouncing while walking to make it look like an astronaut a la light. gravity.
The character cards are separated on the back (text side) by colors. Yellow cards are hero characters, red are friends, blue are opponents, and green are strangers.
The idea of the cards is to mix and match them to give you ideas about the different characters you might have in a room. I think they are very clever, especially with the tricks to make them believable. There are also two blank cards so you can create your own characters and color them.
The twenty-eight figures include both people and animals such as a doctor, a detective, a ghost and a rabbit.
– Plot twist book:
If kids are struggling to come up with ideas for the three acts of a play, the beginning, middle and end, then the plot book is a great addition to this kit. It’s a very small booklet barely bigger than a playing card but so easy to read. Each page is very simply designed with an idea of a beginning, middle, or end along with questions such as why it happened, who will help you, and can they be trusted. Twists include ideas like you have to find something, you get lost, and you discover a big, bad secret plan.
The program is a small folded sheet of paper on which children can draw and color. It has fun spaces to add information about the play, actors, and fun reviews on the back of the play. Children can use this program as is or it can be photocopied to create others in the future. It’s definitely something I didn’t think to add when I played plays at home for my family as a kid.
Just like the program, these are tickets to color and add details to the room. You get a total of nine tickets, each numbered for nine different seats, but these can again be copied or recreated if the kids want to play more pieces.
It’s such a fun kit and so much to do. I was very interested in getting this kit and taking a look at it as I used to stage plays and shows at home as a kid all the time, and more later I became interested and involved in acting and stage work in school. Everything in this book is fun, from the Stagecraft manual to the program you can create and color. There are so many ideas for different plots, characters, and settings that kids really use their imaginations. I think any kids interested in this type of kit would love it. I would have used it like crazy if it existed when I was younger, and with so many different cards and ideas, there’s a good chance kids will use this kit again and again!
– The review first appeared online in October 2017 – now reposted here.
What do you think of this activity pack? Do you or your children ever like to play and dress up? Do you know someone who would love this activity kit? Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂