Behind the Scenes at PST: Tales of Beatrix Potter

Beatrix Potter at her country home

Harry's Not the Only Potter Around...

Hard to imagine there being another Potter, right?  Well, there is.  Can you guess who she is?  I think you got it: Beatrix Potter - you know, the woman who wrote the beloved Tale of Peter Rabbit.  Yes, the moment we hear her name, that cute rabbit, the one that wears a blue coat, pops into our heads, which is why we sometimes forget that Potter wrote other tales about other animals, too - some of which you will see in Applause Unlimited's Tales of Beatrix Potter, at PST Dec 6-9.  (BUY TICKETS).

Now, if you're not too familiar with the other tales of Beatrix Potter - don't worry.  I'm here to give you a little history lesson - one which you'll enjoy.  I promise!

About Beatrix Potter

Beatrix Potter - born Helen Beatrix Potter - was an English author and illustrator best known for her imaginative children's books featuring animals such as those in The Tale of Peter Rabbit, which celebrated British landscape and the countryside.

Born into a privileged family, Potter was exposed to things like art at an early age - as her parents were artists.  She was educated by a private governess until she was eighteen.  Her study of languages, literature, science, and history was broad and she was an eager student.  Her artistic talents were recognized early and although she was provided with private lessons, Potter preferred to develop her own style, particularly favoring watercolor.

Following some success illustrating cards and booklets, Potter wrote and illustrated The Tale of Peter Rabbit, which she published privately in 1901, and a year later as a small, three-color illustrated book with Frederick Warne & Co.

The Many Tales of Beatrix Potter

Beatrix Potter wrote a total of 23 tales - the first being The Tale of Peter Rabbit (1902), which was an immediate success.  Others that followed include: The Tale of Two Bad Mice (1904), The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher (1906), and The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck (1908) - all of which are featured in Applause Unlimited's show, The Tales of Beatrix Potter.

Potter's Illustrations

The Tale of Two Bad Mice tells the story of two mice who vandalize a dollhouse.  After realizing the food on the dining room table is made of plaster, they smash the dishes, throw the doll clothing out the window, tear the bolster, and steal some of the house's decor, taking them back to their mouse-hole.  When the little girl who owns the dollhouse discovers the destruction, she puts a policeman doll outside the front door of her house to ward off any future intrusion.  The two mice eventually feel guilty and make up for their crime spree by putting a crooked sixpence in the doll's stocking on Christmas Eve and sweeping the house every morning with a dust-pan and broom.

The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher tells the story of a frog who lives in a "slippy-sloppy" house at the edge of a pond.  One rainy day he collects worms for fishing and sets off across the pond on his lily-pad boat.  He plans to invite his friends for dinner if he catches more than five minnows.  He encounters all sorts of setbacks to his goal, and escapes a large trout who tries to swallow him.  He swims for shore, decides he will not go fishing again, and hops home.

The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck tells the story of a domestic duck whose eggs are routinely confiscated by the farmer's wife because she believes Jemima is a poor sitter.  Jemima searches for a place away from the farm where she can hatch her eggs without human interference, and naively confides her woes to a suave fox who invites her to nest in a shed at his home.  Jemima accepts his invitation, unaware of the following danger: the fox plans to kill and roast her.  Kep, a collie on the farm, discovers Jemima's whereabouts and rescues her just in time.

Applause Unlimited's Adaptation

Applause Unlimited offers a wide range of performances featuring fresh presentations of classic tales. Their approach includes masks, storytelling, music, and comedy in a unique combination that quietly educates as it entertains. Applause Unlimited has performed at festivals and in theaters worldwide. Their shows have been acclaimed by audiences, educators, producers, and sponsors of children's and family entertainment - receiving two Citations Of Excellence from the Union Internionale de la Marionette.

In their adaptation of Beatrix Potter's beloved tales - Applause Unlimited explores the fantasy world of one of Victorian England's best-known authors and illustrators. Set in an old-fashioned nursery, this performance includes three favorite Beatrix Potter stories as seen through the eyes of a young English girl growing up at the beginning of the twentieth century. As she pursues the everyday activities of playing and learning, the tales of "Two Bad Mice", "Jeremy Fisher", and "Jemima Puddleduck" seem to grow from her imagination.  

If you love animals, especially ones that have a habit of getting into all kinds of adventures, then be sure to come on down to PST this week to see Applause Unlimited bring some of Beatrix Potter's beloved tales to life!  You will love it.  That is a promise.