Most of you lovely readers will recognize the name Sleepy Hollow. Countless stage, screen, and literary adaptations have emerged since Washington Irving’s spooky short story first appeared in 1820. The classic tale of a gold-hearted schoolmaster and his fateful encounter with the Headless Horseman still keeps imaginations young and old ignited. Something to be said for a few pages notched into a nearly 200-year-old book.
This October, the residents of that tiny hamlet again spring to life at the Chance Theater, where this time they endure a drastic retelling of their tale in The Legend(s) of Sleepy Hollow. The production, the last in Chance’s 2015 TYA (that’s Theater for Young Audiences) series, explores Irving’s invention–as well as what really happened to Ichabod Crane according to his horse, Gunpowder.
Geared specifically towards children, the Halloween-y rendition is sprinkled with shadow-puppetry and imaginative use of set-pieces. As I watched the production myself, it occurred to me that playwright Jonathan Josephson has accomplished something terrific in distilling Sleepy Hollow for younger minds.
Effectively, this production, with tongue planted firmly in cheek and a bright sparkle of engaging enthusiasm, is bringing the old world of petticoats, valiant steeds, and gallant young men, to the youngest generations. True, its not the first to do so, but it bears saying nevertheless.
To me, this delivery, old to new, represents an even greater, and very important, point: that theater, the old world of entertainment, is still relevant, exciting, and stimulating to children. Video games, movies, television, all have their place and significance. But what the Chance and Josephson are creating here is a foothold for history. Reaching through time, the production takes a child’s mind and uplifts it, instilling hope that the past will continue to be celebrated for generations to come.