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Los Angeles Times
November 4, 1999
'Dr. Moreau,' 'Heart'
Taped Theater Treasures for Youths

Video: The Island of Dr. Moreau. 113 minutes. $27.
            Playing From the Heart. 98 minutes. $27.
Globalstage Productions Inc. (888) 324-5623.

By LYNNE HEFFLEY, Times Staff Writer

Globalstage, filling a unique niche in the home video market, seeks out and tapes theater-for-youth productions here and abroad for audiences ages 7 to 14. These two splendid productions are prize finds, the best to date.

Taproot Theatre of Seattle presents a dynamic production of "The Island of Dr. Moreau," H.G. Wells' haunting horror tale about a scientist who experiments on animals in his island House of Pain, trying to eradicate the beast in them and turn them into men.

Among the terrific cast are Joshua M. Bott as shipwrecked biologist and unwilling witness Edward Prendick; Nolan Palmer as embittered Dr. Moreau, with delusions of godhood; and Dawn Adora Plummer, who is striking as Moreau's finest achievement: a perfect woman crafted from a wild puma.

Sean R. Gaffney wrote the literate, taut script. Director Scott Nolte's staging is equally taut, giving charged dimension to scenes with Moreau's failures--creatures he was unable to make fully human, who worship, obey and fear him--and with Kate's gradual discovery of herself.

Throughout, Moreau justifies his mission to the audience--"You call horror what is beauty, if you had the eyes to see"--and demands that they consider questions about theology, morality and humanity: Where is the line between beast and man, god and man?

Done on a small stage, with a small cast, it's riveting stuff, created not only to entertain but also to challenge its young audience.

Globalstage scores high marks again with "Playing From the Heart," a fact-based world premiere production about hearing-impaired professional solo percussionist Evelyn Glennie.

Creatively filmed in London by the BBC and performed by Wimbledon's Polka Theatre for Children, the lyrical drama, written by Charles Way and directed by Vicky Ireland, tells of this real-life Scottish artist's driving ambition to be a professional musician from the age of 8, when she began to lose her hearing, until her acceptance as a teenager into Britain's prestigious Royal Academy of Music.

"When I was a child, I could hear fields waking up, stretching their muddy arms. . . . I could hear the wind comb the long grass," remembers Glennie (stunningly portrayed by Louise Bolton). When she can no longer hear outside sounds, she exquisitely tunes into sounds "inside"--her father's heartbeat, the vibrations of percussion instruments. (Her understanding dad is played by Ian Stuart Robertson.)

Afterward, the real Glennie, a Grammy nominee this year (for best classical crossover album) who performed here in January with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, speaks about the play and her life.

The only miscues in these two fine offerings are stilted introductory and post-show segments with host Elizabeth McNamer and her game, young companion, Preston. Discussion of the plays' themes and historical and social context would be more engaging if McNamer, a professor of British origin, was considerably less pedantic and less prone to unchallenged absolutes.

HIP MAGAZINE: for kool deaf and hard-of-hearing kids and their pals.

Video Review: "Playing from the Heart"

This is a video of a play about Evelyn Glennie when she was a young girl. She wanted more than anything to be a musician. In real life, Evelyn grew up to become a famous percussionist. (See story on page one.) She gives concerts to audiences all over the world. "Playing from the Heart" tells the story of Evelyn's childhood up to the time she becomes a student at the Royal Academy of Music in London.

The Polka Children's Theatre of Wimbledon, England put on this play. It uses few sets and only five actors to play many different characters. It shows Evelyn's inspiring story of perseverance.

The staging in this play is sophisticated. Scene changes happen in front of the audience with subtle lighting effects. There is a full set of percussion instruments at the back of the stage. As the actress Evelyn pretends to play instruments at the front of the stage, a real percussionist plays in the darkened background.

At one point, the young Evelyn insists, "I am not disabled, I am not disabled." The message of this play is to show that with determination and perseverance, it is possible to do anything you set your mind to.

July, 1999

Playing From The Heart. Globalstage. 1998; rel. 1999. 98min. $27 (pp). (1-892045-04-4). CC.

Ages 812. With "ears on the inside," Evelyn Glennie pursued her childhood ambition of becoming a professional musiciana solo percussionistdespite being profoundly deaf. A five-member cast (and a percussionist) of the Polka Theatre for Children recounts Glennie's childhood on a farm in Scotland, her progressive deafness, her unusual musical education, and her determination and persistence, culminating in her acceptance at London's Royal Academy of Music. Like other Globalstage productions, Professor Elizabeth McNamer hosts the program and introduces the play to a young friend, in this case they sit amidst the bustle of Trafalgar Square. The stage production features talented, empathetic acting, from Glennie's nurturing family and musical mentors to patronizing social service bureaucrats. The dramatization is imaginatively staged and beautifully scripted. Deftly transforming the theatrical performance to the video format, excellent, varied camera work alternates between audience-perspective long shots, intimate close-ups, and dissolves that blend viewpoints and gracefully telescope action. A studio interview with the real Evelyn Glennie, in which she discusses the play and her musical career, concludes the video. Movingly portraying a tenacious individual who refused to be defined by her disability, this video offers superb viewing for families and for students and others who will learn to sharpen their perception of the senses and sensibilities about disabilities.Irene Wood

School Library Journal
April, 1999, P. 66

It is heartening to learn about someone who refuses to allow a disability to keep her from success. Evelyn Glennie was a Scotch farm girl who dreamed of becoming a professional musician despite losing her hearing at a young age. Raised in a close and loving family, Evelyn refused to be limited by her deafness. She insisted on attending regular schools and not telling her teachers and classmates that she was deaf. Through sheer determination, she convinced a teacher that she could learn music and after years of practice her great talent began to blossom. This inspiring story is performed here as a play by the Childrens [sic] Theater of Wimbledon, England. Many viewers will relate to its theme of perseverance. However, this outstanding video really comes into its own in the drama classroom. With minimal sets and only five actors who play numerous characters, Playing From the Heart is a textbook example of how to act and how to stage a play. The staging is at once simple and sophisticated. Scene changes occur before the audiences eyes through the subtle use of lighting. Throughout the second act, there is a full set of percussion instruments at the back of the stage. As the actress Evelyn pretends to play instruments at the front of the stage, a real percussionist plays in the darkened background. The play ends with Evelyn's acceptance at the Royal Academy of Music in London. After the performance, the real Evelyn Glennie is interviewed about her career, her deafness, and her determination to succeed as a professional musician. At one point in the play the young girl keeps insisting, I am not disabled. I am not disabled. That message of defiant persistence in the face of seemingly overwhelming odds is one that today's youth need to hear. Show the video for that reason, or as an extraordinary example of live theater at its best. Either way, this is a remarkable production. -Linda R. Skeele, Western Elementary School, Georgetown, KY

Harvey, The Magazine For Kids
March 1999
Cool Stuff: Songs From The Heart

You know, sometimes I think I have it bad. Like when I missed a game-winning flyball in my all-star game last year. But then I watched this cool new video, Playing From the Heart. It's about a lady named Evelyn Glennie who started to go deaf when she was 8-that's how old I am now. All she ever wanted to do was be a musician. It must be really hard to be a deaf musician, but she did it! And now she's a really famous percussionist. I liked this video because it showed me that I can do anything that I want, if I really put my mind to it. (For ages 7 and up, Globalstage, to order call (888) 324-5623, $27)
-- Matthew F. 8 years old, Wilmington, NC

Dallas Morning News

January 11, 1999. p. 3C
Life of Deaf Percussionist Glennie Perfectly Suited to Dramatization
KIDS' VIDEOS by Nancy Churnin

The story of Scottish-born Evelyn Glennie, a deaf solo-percussionist, is, like that of Helen Keller, an inspired one for dramatization.

The San Francisco-based Globalstage, which is quickly making a name for itself as a video distributor of high-quality theatrical performances around the world, offers a fascinating look at her life as written by Charles Way for the Polka Children's Theatre of Wimbledon.

Playing From the Heart, aimed for older children, stays focused on Ms. Glennie's journey from an idyllic childhood in a musical family to her onset of deafness at age 8 to her ultimate realization of a dream to be a musician against the odds. But while she has tussles with those who try to discourage her along the way, the show plays more like a monologue with supporting voices; it simmers and inspires, but quietly. It lacks the fierce energy that comes from Helen's struggles with her teacher Annie Sullivan, in The Miracle Worker.

Still what the story misses in theatrics, it makes up for in the wonder of its contemporary reality. Ms. Glennie, a Grammy Award-winning, internationally renowned concert performer, became what she said she would be: the first full-time solo percussionist in the world, performing more than 100 concerts in more than 20 countries per year.

Children captivated by Ms. Glennie's story can see the 33-year old musician in person when she comes to Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth Oct. 19 to perform with the Kings' Singers.

Equally inspiring is Ms. Glennie's commitment to help other deaf or hard-of-hearing children to pursue musical instruments. This year she chose the finalists for the first Evelyn Glennie National Scholarship Awards instituted by the Children's Hearing Institute, awarding the winners $2,000 scholarships to pursue their studies.

She explains on her Web site (www.evelyn.co.uk) how she learned to play, referring to herself in the third person:

"She would stand with her hands against the classroom wall while Ron (her teacher) played notes on the timpani. Eventually Evelyn managed to distinguish the rough pitch of notes by associating where on her body she felt the sound with the sense of perfect pitch she had before losing her hearing."

Also on the video, after the play, Ms. Glennie appears in an interview answering questions about her life.

Video Librarian
(1998) 98 min. $27. Globalstage Productions. PPR
Color Cover. Closed Captioned. (1998) 133 min. GlobalStage

GlobalStage's latest filmed adaptation of a play is performed by one of England's best children's theatre companies, the Polka Children's Theatre of Wimbledon. Playing from the Heart relates the story of Scottish musician Evelyn Glennie, a world class percussionist who happens to be deaf. The play chronicles Glennie's childhood, up to the point where she passes an audition that wins her a spot at the Royal Academy of Music in London. The Polka actors provide uniformly excellent performances, the script presents Evelyn's story with clarity and sensitivity, and the staging and cinematography are both inventive and imaginative. At the end of the video we're treated to an interview with Glennie that's quite absorbing. Since she didn't begin losing her hearing until she was 8-years-old, she speaks as fluently as any of us (actually she speaks with greater clarity than most of us). Glennie's story is both fascinating and inspiring. Highly recommended. Aud: E, I, J, H, P. (P. Van Vleck)