Studio Tenn supports arts education with ‘Little Women’

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Little Women

Studio Tenn will host "Little Women" at The Factory at Franklin on Feb. 17.

“Little Women,” a novel by Louisa May Alcott, is based on her childhood in Concord, Massachusetts, during the Civil War. It is the warm story of the close-knit March family and four strong sisters — Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy — growing up with love but without much money in the 1860s.  

The book for children was written in a more realistic style than children’s books of the period. It was first published in 1868, printed in over 50 languages and, from the beginning, it touched children and adults all over the world. Now, 152 years later, it has been turned into many adaptations for plays and movies.  

Studio Tenn members felt “Little Women” was the perfect story to help celebrate their 10th season by honoring strong women this year, the 100th anniversary of women getting the right to vote.  

The production company, based in The Factory at Franklin, chose “Little Women” as part of its continuing efforts to reach out to the community and support arts education in Williamson County.  

Much like the work Dolly Parton has done to get Tennessee children to read through her wonderful Imagination Library, Studio Tenn has, since its inception, worked hard to reach out to children to engage in the arts. Along with public performances of “Little Women” on Feb. 12 and 17, free private showings were given to the county’s students on Feb. 13, 14, 18 and 19. 

“We want to reach children who have never seen a live play before and give them the chance to see one and to become more involved in the arts,” said Benji Kern, associate creative director at Studio Tenn. 

Studies have been done that show students in schools that have a curriculum strong in the arts have increased math skills, higher GPAs and a better sense of self-esteem. The arts help create a better, well-rounded student. 

Supported with grants from The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee and Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corp., and along with the donated proceeds of Studio Tenn’s special evening productions of “Little Women” (playing on the days when their current production of “Steel Magnolias” was on down time), Middle Tennessee’s kids have been given a chance to see a wonderful classic come alive on stage.  

Performed free for the children, the show is presented during school time, with the transportation to and from the theater paid for thanks to the grants. It has been a huge success, with large numbers of high school, middle school and even homeschooled children attending. Studio Tenn hopes to do it again next year.  

The show’s production was excellent, with a delightful cast including four very talented actresses playing the sisters (they’re actually still in school themselves). Kern said he loved watching the young audiences “so focused on the stage, laughing and crying, immersed in the story and thrilled with the chance they got to see it.” 

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