The Reds Shoes, and The Edge of Peace

The Red Shoes

Our first summer show is based on a fairy tale by Danish poet and author Hans Christian Andersen. The story is about a girl who cannot remove her red shoes and must dance continually in them. Published in 1845, it is the quintessential European folktale, telling a moral tale based on the idea of temptation and eventual redemption. The story is based upon the protagonist’s desire for a pair of shoes and the consequences of her temptation.

Written by Robin Short, adapted from the fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson

Directed by Catherine Field

 Auditions will be held April 24 and 25 at 6:30 p.m. at The Varsity Center,  418 South Illinois Avenue, Carbondale, IL. Callbacks will be held on April 26 at 6:30.

Performance dates are June 22-25

Note: auditions for the second summer show, The Edge of Peace, will be held on the same nights, also at The Varsity. When auditionees enter the lobby, they will be given instructions regarding completing audition information forms and where auditions for each show are being held. Auditionees may audition for one show or both shows.

The director is looking for actors to portray the following characters:

Karen: A teenage girl who can dance well.

Nels: A stalwart lad in his late teens.

Snogg: An unscrupulous man, a vagabond.

Jemmo: A clever little clown.  May be male or female.

Burgomaster: A dignified and pompous man.

Grandmother: A nice old lady.


The Red Shoes was first published by C.A. Reitzel in Copenhagen 7 April 1845 in New Fairy Tales. Anderson’s story tells the tale of a peasant girl named Karen who

is adopted by a rich old lady after her mother’s death.  Unfortunately, she grows up vain and spoiled. Before her adoption, Karen had a rough pair of red shoes; now she has her adoptive mother buy her a pair of red shoes fit for a princess. Karen is initially delighted with her beautiful and indulgent gift. But it will soon lead her down a path of more misery than she could have ever imagined as she is bespelled to dance in them without stopping. However, Anderson had a larger purpose in mind than simply writing a cautionary tale about temptation. Andersen’s use of Christian morality in this tale offers insight into European culture during the 19th century. Christianity was a powerful cultural influence and that is evident in the story. The church is a focal point throughout the moral tale and the themes of redemption and temptation directly connect to the Christian values that are taught to children. “The Red Shoes” has seen adaptations in various media including film.


Robin Short:

Robin Short is a published author. One published credit of Robin Short is  The Red Shoes: A Two-Act Play to Amuse Children.

Hans Christian Anderson:

Born in Odense, Denmark on April 2, 1805, Mr. Anderson’s original fairy stories have delighted children and families for almost two hundred years.  Young Hans, although not from a wealthy family, neverthelesss was well-educated as he was somehow able to attend the most exclusive boarding schools of the day.

Hans did not set out in life to be a writer, however. He first wanted to be an actor,

so in 1819 he traveled to Copenhagen to pursue his dream. While there, due to his excellent soprano voice, Andersen was accepted into the Royal Danish Theater. Hans soon returned to school, however, and, with the support of patron Jonas Collin, director of the Theater, he embarked on a writing career. His work began to be recognized in 1829, when he produced a play, a book of poetry, and a travelogue in short order.  A novel, The Improvisatore, was published in 1835, the same year he began writing fairy stories. Anderson continued writing novels, travelogues, and poetry over the next several decades, often to critical acclaim, until a collection of his fairy tales was published in English in 1845. This event propelled Anderson to worldwide fame and made his stories widely known. And they endure as to this day as classics in children’s literature with their universal and timeless appeal.  Some of his most famous tales are The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Ice-Maiden, The Little Match Girl, The Little Mermaid, The Princess and the Pea, The Red Shoes, The Snow Queen, The Steadfast Tin Soldier, Thumbelina, The Ugly Duckling, and The Wild Swans.

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR:  Catherine Field has been a member of the Stage Company since 1991, acting, directing, and serving two terms as president.  Most recently she directed “Arsenic and Old Lace” and “The 39 Steps.”

The Edge of Peace, by Susan Zeder

Directed by Kevin Purcell

Auditions will be held on April 24 and 25 at 6:30 p.m. at The Varsity Center, 418 South Illinois Avenue, Carbondale, IL.  Callbacks will be held on April 26 at 6:30.

Performance dates are July 27-30.

Note:  auditions for our first summer show, The Red Shoes, will be held at the same times at The Varsity.  When auditionees enter the lobby, they will be given instructions regarding completing the audition information forms and told where auditions are being held for each show. Then they will have a choice of attending auditions for one or both shows.

Kevin Purcell, director, is looking for the following actors:

Boys/Girls: age 10-13

Young woman: age 20-24

Young Man: age 20-24

2 Men: age 40-50

2 Women: age 40-50

The audition process will consist of cold readings from the script. A copy of the script is available for perusal at the Carbondale Public Library.


The Stage Company is excited to present The Edge of Peace, by Suzan Zeder. This is the third and final play in the acclaimed Ware Trilogy, which includes Zeder’s award-winning plays Mother Hicks and The Taste of Sunrise (seen at the Varsity Center for the Arts in 2014 and 2016). The Edge of Peace is set in the same tiny town of Ware, Illinois, and follows many of the same characters (Tuc, Nell Hicks) as they spin the conclusion of their stories. Set in 1945 in the last desperate days of World War II, this play deals with the impact on a family and a community after a young soldier from the town is declared missing in action and the soldier’s younger sibling refuses to believe what seems inevitable. In the visual poetry of sign language, Tuc, who is now a mechanic and the deaf postman for the town, as narrator, takes us on a journey of hope through a landscape of loss. A key new character is introduced: Eleven-year-old Buddy who patrols the streets, searches for clues and tries to hold the family together as everyone waits for news about the missing soldier and prays for peace. Each of the plays in the Ware Trilogy lead us through three pivotal eras of American history as reflected in the lives of the families who live in Ware. At the core of each play is an issue important to Deaf and hearing cultures, but most important are the human stories of longing and loss, humor and hope that will resonate with audiences of all ages.


Susan Zeder has been recognized nationally and internationally as one of the leading playwrights for young and family audiences in the United States. Indeed, some have referred to her as “the Tennessee Williams of children’s theater.”  Her plays have been produced in all fifty states by professional, university, and children’s theaters. Dr. Zeder is a six-time winner of the Distnguished Play Award by the American Alliance of Theater and Education..  Also, she has served as panelist and site reporter for the National Endowment for the Arts and Theater Communications Group.  In 1998 she was inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Theater and in 2002 she was elevated ot the Academy of Distinguished Teachers at the University of Texas in Austin.  The Edge of Peace is the last of a trilogy of plays set in Ware, Illinois (and other locales) during the Depression and the World War II years. The first two plays in the trilogy, Mother Hicks and The Taste of Sunrise, were performed by the Stage Company in 2014 and 2106, respectively.


For the past 43 years Kevin Purcell has been an actor and director in Illinois and Washington state. He was co-founder of Seattle Public Theater and Over the Moon Productions, two theater companies that thrive today.Since moving to the area in 2013, Kevin directed the first two parts of Suzan Zeder’s The Ware Trilogy (Mother Hicks, The Taste of Sunrise).  He is delighted to direct the final installment The Edge of Peace, and welcome the playwright to Carbondale to conduct a workshop for The Stage Company. He also directed Healin Home, by Kari Catton and a reading of The Little Years by John Mighton. Kevin thanks his wife Lucia for her unflagging honesty.