Los Angeles Times
July 9, 1998

All the World's A Stage
by Lynne Heffley

Its not quite the same, but young theatre fans can check out the work of companies around the world in a new video series called "Globalstage" aimed at ages 7-14. So far, the series consists of Collodis "Pinocchio," a commedia dell'arte production performed by Stage One of Louisville Ky.; "Cyrano," an adaptation of Edmond Rostands beautiful classic, presented by the Blaw Vier theatre company of Antwerp, Belgium; and "Frankenstein," Stage Ones version of Mary Shelleys atmospheric horror tale.

The companys fourth offering will be Thomas Hardys "Far From the Madding Crowd," presented by Englands Snap Peoples Theatre.

Two other titles, scheduled for release by the end of the year, are yet to be announced.

The British Broadcasting Corp. has filmed each production; each features an introduction by Irish-born Elizabeth McNamer, a professor of literature and religion, and her 13-year-old sidekick, Preston Blakeley. The informative interchange between the two is theatrically awkward, but refreshingly unpatronizing, providing historical, ideological and cultural context for each play.

"I think that the BBC has really captured the experience of actors on a stage, and the vibrancy of the theatre," said Globalstage marketing director Abbi Kaplan. "They mix up the camera angles to make it almost seem that you're there."

"Were not saying its the same thrill of walking into a theater," noted founder Lizbeth Pratt. "But its not [a passive TV experience] either, because what's happening is not all laid out for you. You see diversity; you see ideas and concepts. It forces the viewer to be involved because [as in a theater experience] your mind has to fill in the blanks."

Inspiration for the series was sparked by Pratts desire to find entertainment that wasn't "dumbed down" for her young son, and because, after she and her son saw "a really good play," she was disappointed that no video of the performance existed.

Pratt, a stock options trader in her everyday life, now regularly travels nationally and internationally, looking for productions to add to her series eclectic mix.