Once upon a time, there was a prince who wanted a princess. But she had to be a real princess, and he didn’t know how to tell if a princess was real.
When a woman showed up on his doorstep claiming to be a princess, the queen devised a test to see whether she was real. If she could feel a pea tucked under 20 mattresses and 20 feather beds, she must truly be a princess.
The Patchwork Players will perform Hans Christian Andersen’s beloved children’s story The Princess and the Pea on Wednesday, Jan. 18, at Augusta State University’s Maxwell Performing Arts Theatre.
It is one of five children’s plays that will be presented through June.
Each play features a retelling of a popular children’s story and is directed at children ages 2 through the early elementary years.
“It’s really to encourage literacy,” said Paulette Harris, director of the Augusta State University Literacy Center.
The Patchwork Players is based in Columbia and has been dedicated to presenting children’s plays around the Southeast for 32 years. The literacy center has played host to them for 20 years.
The plays are open to everyone. Audiences are often made up of child care classes, pre-K and kindergarten classes and home-school children.
Harris said she encourages teachers to read the stories to the children before and after the play and to talk about the differences between the versions.
“They learn to understand that there are adaptations,” she said. “We’re hoping they’ll see there are different versions. It’s part of our growing imaginations.”
The June 23 play, Aesop’s Fables, will also include a family literacy event, which includes children’s activities related to the play.
A nominal fee is charged for admission to the plays, but Harris said no one would be turned away for inability to pay.
“We always encourage them to just let us know. We always want them to come,” Harris said.