a group photo of theatre students and faculty heading to Scotland in August to tour the show "Grandfather Frog's Tales of the Meadow" at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Heading to Scotland in August to tour the show “Grandfather Frog’s Tales of the Meadow” at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe are SFA School of Theatre and Dance representatives, front from left, Heather Samuelson, associate professor of dance and assistant director of the School of Theatre and Dance; students Natalie Bobinger, junior from Montgomery; and Brooke Lauw, junior from Danbury; second row, Savanah Bunn, sophomore from Lufkin; alumna Juliana Thibadeaux; students Sophie Jordan, junior from Nacogdoches; Maddie Watkins, senior from Garland; theatre Professor Angela Bacarisse; back, alumnus Grant McGee; and Lexi Moore, sophomore from Cushing.

NACOGDOCHES, Texas – The School of Theatre and Dance at Stephen F. Austin State University will present a community preview at 2 p.m. Saturday, July 29, of an original play students will perform next month at the prestigious Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Edinburgh, Scotland.
The preview performance of “Grandfather Frog’s Tales of the Meadow” will be in Kennedy Auditorium on the SFA campus. The event is a fundraiser to offset travel costs of the Scotland trip.
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the largest performing arts festival in the world. SFA theatre students started attending the event and touring a play in the summer of 2015. This year’s festival runs Aug. 4 through 28. SFA’s performances are Aug. 4, 5, 8, and 9 in Venue 45, one of the oldest venues used by the festival, and the venue in which SFA performed in 2015 and 2017.
Theatre Professor Angela Bacarisse organized the first Scotland experience in 2015 as credit coursework using student actors to perform new works by student playwrights and works by former SFA Playwright-in-Residence Jack Hefner. When no student playwrights came forward for the 2019 trip, Bacarisse used the story of J.M. Barrie’s fictional character Peter Pan to create a new work that incorporated dance.
“It was so great, for faculty and for the students, to collaborate with dance, that we decided to do it again this year,” she said.
“Grandfather Frog’s Tales of the Meadow” is based on the “Mother West Wind” books by Thornton Burgess. Bacarisse interpreted the stories into scenes for the play, and Heather Samuelson, associate professor of dance and assistant director of the School of Theatre and Dance, choreographed the movement and dance. “We worked together to create a piece that is both movement and words. It is a series of stories, many told by Grandfather Frog, about the animals that live in and near the meadow and stream and how they learn to get along,” Bacarisse said.
In traveling to Edinburgh, student actors and dancers will learn how to build a show quickly with limited resources and how to travel a show halfway across the globe to perform it. It can be stressful – working on costumes and props, and setting up and striking each performance, Bacarisse explained.
“We also see several other required performances, and students can pick some optional shows to see from the 3,000 that will be performed at the festival,” she said. Students will also visit the Scottish Parliament, the royal residence Holyrood house, the National Museum, and St. Andrews and Falkland Palace; the palace is a location used in filming several scenes in the “Outlander” series.
“I also take them to the beach to dip their toes in the very cold North Sea, and we will climb Arthur’s Seat to view the city from above,” Bacarisse said. “Two special events are the Ceilidh and the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. A ceilidh is like a barn dance; we get to learn traditional Scottish dance along with other students and dance the night away accompanied by bag pipe and fiddle. The Military Tattoo is a tradition of the Fringe performed in a giant stadium constructed on the grounds of Edinburgh Castle, and it involves military bands and color guards from all over the world, as well as video mapping on the castle itself. It is really exciting.”
SFA Provost Dr. Lorenzo Smith and Dr. Gary Wurtz, dean of the Micky Elliott College of Fine Arts, awarded partial scholarships to students making the trip. The preview performance is a pay-what-you-can event with proceeds going toward technical expenses and performance costs in Scotland.
For more information about contributing to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe performances, contact Bacarisse at abacarisse@sfasu.edu or the School of Theatre and Dance at (936) 468-4003.