School Is Weird

School Is Weird

But ‘Sideways Stories’ can help kids flourish


Louis Sachar’s classic “Sideways Stories From Wayside School” is the wacky tale of a school that was supposed to be 30 classrooms, side by side, but, instead, was accidentally built 30 classrooms high. Each chapter is a story of a different classroom, and Sachar’s surrealistic tendencies make those stories engaging to kids. Trike Theatre is now mounting a stage adaptation of the book, which has been loved by many since it was published in the 1970s.

Director Chris Tennison says he remembers reading “Sideways Stories From Wayside School” as a child.

“What I really enjoyed about the book is that it was so weird,” he says. “It was such a strange world these kids were going to school in. I think when you’re young and switching schools or starting a new school or even beginning a new school year, there’s a little bit of apprehension, a little bit of weirdness around that event. This book — and this play — does a clever job of highlighting how weird school can be, in a very extreme way. I really do feel that that was Louis Sachar’s intention — in addition to making a bunch of different stories, he’s also addressing that little bit of fear or apprehension about going to school.”

The cast of this show includes several local youth actors, making the production as beneficial for the kids on stage as for those in the audience.

“We double cast the youth actors so they’re not missing two weeks of school [to perform],” Tennison explains. “It’s a fantastic opportunity for our young artists to learn from people who are making a living in the field.”

Fourteen year-old J.T. Loveless is one of the youth actors performing in the production. Loveless says sports were more his thing up until a year ago, when an injury curtailed his track and field season. When his parents suggested he try out for his junior high musical, he discovered a new talent — and a new love.

“It’s such a positive community,” says Loveless. “The people are so supportive. With sports, it’s either win or lose, so you can come home feeling really great or really bummed out. But with theater, if you give it your all every single time, you feel great no matter what.”

So far, he’s performed with Trike Theatre and ArtsLive, and, in about six weeks, he will perform in TheatreSquared’s production of “Matilda the Musical.”

“Boys in the arts are not always celebrated, and we need to, as a society, support our boys who are artistically and musically talented and talented in the theater,” says Loveless’ mom, Sandy Loveless.

Loveless says he thinks audiences are going to love “Sideways Stories.”

“It’s funny and quirky and good for kids,” he says. “It’s got great laughs but great morals in there, too.”

“In our day and time, it’s becoming a harder thing, but we want to make people of all ages laugh,” says Tennison. “It’s silly, it’s goofy, there are jokes for parents, teens and kids. We hope families come together and use this as an opportunity to forget about everything else that’s going on and laugh, together, as a family.”



‘Sideways Stories From Wayside School’

WHEN — 10 a.m., 2 p.m. & 4 p.m. March 14 & 21

WHERE — Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville

COST — $14

INFO — 443-5600

Categories: Family Friendly