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Nine-year-old writes, directs, produces play to benefit the North Whidbey Help House
This legendary character may be a big, furry meanie but he is marching into town to benefit the Help House. The Big Bad Wolf takes the stage at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16 and Saturday, Nov. 17 with a different take on the tale and a one-of-a-kind playwright.
This time, the story is authored by Sarah Hamm, a 9-year-old who put her own spin on the fairy tale with her play, “The Lost Wolf.” In Sarah’s version of the story, which took her about a week to write, the Big Bad Wolf looks forward to eating three juicy pigs, but that doesn’t go exactly as planned.
Before wreaking havoc on the Three Little Pigs, the Big Bad Wolf receives a strange reception at the first pig’s house, who tells him his good luck won’t last forever.
“He goes to the second little pig’s house and something very, very unexpected happens,” Sarah said. The Big Bad Wolf is knocked unconscious and forgets which fairy tale he belongs in. The play follows the Big Bad Wolf’s comedic adventures through fairy tales like Robin Hood, Cinderella, Pinocchio, Snow White and Little Red Riding Hood in his quest to discover where he belongs. The ending is a surprise, Sarah said, and it’s funny.
Directing and producing her first play has been a challenge, said Sarah. An avid reader who can’t get enough of horse stories and classics, Sarah originally wrote the play when her grandmother asked her to write a play to perform with her cousins and siblings at a family reunion.
“I didn’t know anything about writing a play. So I was trying and trying to think of a good idea,” Sarah said. Her other grandmother told Sarah she’d written about the Big Bad Wolf once and Sarah ran with the idea.
“They thought it was really fun,” Sarah said of her family’s reaction.
Sarah’s mom, Mary Hamm, had the idea for Sarah to produce the play to benefit a charity. After Mary explained the meaningfulness of charities to Sarah, she chose the Help House “because it’s a place closer by and it’s a place lots of people can go to for any help they might need,” Sarah said. “I have the feeling in my heart that I should do that.”
The road to success has been rife with difficulties despite the 9-year-old’s energy and drive. However, the problems didn’t stem from Sarah, who stays perfectly organized with a pink binder of neatly printed lists.
“It was driving around, bringing the forms back and forth,” Mary said. “She’s learning about the frustrating things you run into when trying to do something good.”
Finding a building to host the performances was a struggle. Sarah asked a few places — some of which required her to write lengthy proposals or wait days to hear back — and finally, North Whidbey Middle School agreed to rent her its performing area for $50 a night. The paperwork seemed to multiply daily with forms for the Hamms and Help House staff to sign. She also endeavored to find locations to hang posters and was denied by corporations like Walmart and Albertson’s.
“She’s learning how corporations and government work,” Mary laughed.
She’s also learning how to handle small defeats while looking forward to her future success, which becomes easier as she sees her play coming together.
Sarah held auditions to fill the parts with 18 actors ages 6 to 13, most of whom are her friends. She also faced the roadblock of scheduling rehearsals that didn’t conflict with the families’ busy schedules. They’ve been rehearsing since Oct. 10.
While Sarah said she really wanted to take on the part of the Big Bad Wolf, she chose her 12-year-old friend Maira Sulin (Walton) to play the part so Sarah could focus on directing.
“She’s awesome. She acts rude as a character. She’s really, really funny,” Sarah laughed.
Sarah said all of her actors are “awesome.” Their biggest hurdle has been practicing not giggling during comedic scenes of the play.
“They bring lots of funniness to it. They’re the ones who bring the play to life,” Sarah said. “I used to think that my play would just not work out very much but we did some practices and saw it would work. My actors really helped me have confidence.”
World of creativity
For Sarah, the process has been all about using her imagination. From making up plays inspired by favorite books like “Chronicles of Narnia” and “Black Beauty” to playing the piano, reading and drawing, Sarah’s life is rich with creativity, the joy of which manifests in her energetic, upbeat attitude.
“I was really surprised how fun writing a play can be,” Sarah said, adding that using her imagination is exciting.
Reading is a family adventure for the Hamms. Mary reads individually with each child and they all partake in a family book. Sarah completely devours every story she can get her hands on. When she comes across a good idea while reading, Sarah said she thinks, “Oh, that’s a great idea! Maybe I should do it as a play with my cousins.”
“She’s just flying through them,” Mary said of Sarah’s love of books. “It’s been really fun to see her as our oldest moving in that natural progression.”
“The Lost Wolf” certainly won’t be the end of Sarah’s writing or theater careers. She plans to make a series out of this play and possibly turn it into a children’s book. After she’s done producing the play, she also plans to act at the Whidbey Playhouse.
“I dream of being an author when I grow up and now that dream might come true,” Sarah said.
The Big Bad Wolf takes center stage
When: 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16 and Saturday, Nov. 17. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Where: North Whidbey Middle School.
Cost: $6 for adults, $4 children 3 and up, or $20 per family. Tickets will be sold at the door; cash or check only.
For more information, vist thelostwolfplay.tumblr.com.