Student Matinee Program

The Wizard of Oz
by L. Frank Baum

Study Guide for Educators
Generously sponsored by
Harold & Joan Jorgensen, Dr. Dennis & Franziska Shepard, and Ng & Ng Dental & Eyecare

Welcome to PCPA Theaterfest

Thank you for bringing your students to PCPA Theaterfest at Allan Hancock College. Here are some helpful hints for your visit to the Marian Theatre. The top priority of our staff is to provide an enjoyable day of live theatre for you and your students. We offer you this study guide as a tool to prepare your students prior to the performance.

Note-able behavior is a vital part of theater for youth. Going to the theater is not a casual event. It is a special occasion. If students are prepared properly, it will be a memorable, educational experience they will remember for years.

1. Have students enter the theater in a single file. Chaperones should be one adult for every ten students. Our ushers will assist you with locating your seats. Please wait until the usher has seated your party before any rearranging of seats to avoid injury and confusion. While seated, teachers should space themselves so they are visible, between every groups of ten students. Teachers and adults must remain with their group during the entire performance.

2. Once seated in the theater, students may go to the bathroom in small groups and with the teacher's permission. Please chaperone younger students. Once the show is over, please remain seated until the House Manager dismisses your school.

3. Please remind your students that we do not permit: - food, gum, drinks, smoking, hats, backpacks or large purses - disruptive talking. - disorderly and inappropriate behavior (stepping on/over seats, throwing objects, etc.) - cameras, iPods, cell phones, beepers, tape recorders, hand held video games. (Adults are asked to put any beepers or cell phones on silent or vibrate.) In cases of disorderly behavior, groups may be asked to leave the theater without ticket refunds.

4. Teachers should take time to remind students before attending the show of the following about a live performance: Sometimes we forget when we come into a theatre that we are one of the most important parts of the production. Without an audience there would be no performance. Your contribution of laughter, quiet attention and applause is part of the play. When we watch movies or television we are watching images on a screen, and what we say or do cannot affect them. In the theatre the actors are real people who are present and creating an experience with us at that very moment. They see and hear us and are sensitive to our response. They know how we feel about the play by how we watch and listen. An invisible bond is formed between actors and a good audience, and it enables the actors to do their best for you. A good audience helps make a good performance. PCPA Theaterfest welcomes you as a partner in the live theatre experience from the moment you take your seats. We hope that your visit will be a highlight of your school year.

Production Team for The Wizard of Oz
Musical Director
Puppet Designer & Performance
Scenic Designer
Costume Designer
Lighting Designer
Sound Designer
Production Stage Manager
Stage Manager
Mark Booher
Callum Morris
Bryn Elizan Harris
Emily DeCola
DeAnne Kennedy
Frederick P. Deeben
Jennifer 'Z' Zornow
Elisabeth Rebel
Christine Collins*
Heather Newman
Cast of Characters
Dorothy Gale Britney Simpson
Toto Tony Kupsick
Aunt Em Kitty Balay*
Uncle Henry/Munchkin Tough/
Emerald City Guard
Evans Eden Jarnefeldt
Zeke/Cowardly Lion Erik Stein*
Hickory/Tin Woodman Andrew Philpot*
Hunk/Scarecrow Quinn Mattfeld*
Miss Gultch/Wicked Witch of the West Elizabeth Stuart*
Professor Marvel/Wizard of Oz Peter S. Hadres*
Glinda Good Witch of the North Karin Hendricks
Apple Tree/Ozian Manicurist/
Flying Monkey
Bryn Elizan Harris
Munchkin Tot/Apple Tree/
Ozian Manicurist/Flying Monkey
Krysta Smith
Ozian Polisher/Winkie Rose Blackford
Munchkin Tot/Apple Tree/
Ozian Beautician/Winkie
Kelly McGaw
Apple Tree/Ozian Manicurist/Great & Powerful Oz/ Flying Monkey Katie Wackowski
Munchkin Barrister/Ozian Woman/
Flying Monkey
Rachael VanWormer
Munchkin/Flying Monkey Harriette Dunn-Feliz
Munchkin Teacher/Apple Tree/
Ozian Beautician/Winkie/
Mrs. Gulch Double
Stephanie Bull
Munchkin Tot/Ozian Woman Amanda Salmon
Ozian Manicurist Jennifer Rose Hijazi
Munchkin/Ozian Beautician/
Great & Powerful Oz/ Winkie
Madelyn Adams
Munchkin City Father/
Ozian Beautician/ Winkie
Lauren Rhae Sidwell
Munchkin Tough/Crow/
Ozian Polisher/Winkie
George P. Scott
Munchkin City Father/Crow/
Ozian Polisher/
Great and Powerful Oz/Winkie
Taylor Babcock
Munchkin Teacher/Winkie Toby Tropper
Munchkin Braggart/Ozian/
Flying Monkey
Cameron Parker
Munchkin Coroner/First Crow/
Ozian Man/Winkie General
Sean Peters
Great & Powerful Oz/Winkie
Daniel Rubio
Ozian/Winkie Luke Myers
Munchkin Tough/Ozian Polisher/
Great & Powerful Oz/ Flying Monkey
Christopher Carter
Munchkin Mayor/Ozian Man/
Flying Monkey
Andy Babinski
Munchkin/Nikko Lafras le Roux
Ensemble Madelyn Adams, Andy Babinski,
Taylor Babcock, Kitty Balay*,
Rose Blackford, Stephanie Bull, Christopher Carter, Harriette Dunn-Feliz, Peter S. Hadres*, Bryn Elizan Harris, Jennifer Rose Hijazi, Evans Eden Jarnefeldt, Lafras le Roux, Luke Myers,
Cameron Parker, Sean Peters,
Kelly McGaw, Daniel Rubio,
Amanda Salmon, George P. Scott,
Lauren Rhae Sidwell, Krysta Smith,
Toby Tropper, Rachel VanWormer,
Katie Wackowski
*Member, Actors' Equity Association  
This guide has been created with the California Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in mind. Specifically, this guide may be used to support standards in the following areas: Reading Literature, Writing, and Speaking and Listening. The Study Guide is a companion piece designed to explore many ideas depicted in the stage production of The Wizard of Oz. Although the guide's intent is to enhance the student's theatrical experience, it can also be used as an introduction to the elements of a play (in this case a play with music), and the production elements involved in the play's presentation. Although some students may be familiar with the general storyline, each specific stage adaptation presents a wealth of new questions for this generation to answer. The guide has been organized into four major sections:

I. Elements of the story

II. Historical background

III. Elements of production

IV. Vocabulary and Activities

Teachers and group leaders will want to select portions of the guide for their specific usage. Discussion questions are meant to provoke a line of thought about a particular topic. The answers to the discussion questions in many instances will initiate the process of exploration and discovery of varied interpretations by everyone involved. This can be as rewarding as the wonderful experience of sight and sound that The Wizard of Oz creates on-stage.

It is recommended that The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, available in paperback at local libraries or book stores, be used in conjunction with discussion of the play. However, the discrepancies between various film, play, and book adaptations may be useful for classroom discussions as well.

I. Elements of the Story
The complete summary of Baum’s novel can be found at

Story Synopsis :
Dorothy, an orphan, lives with Uncle Henry, a farmer, and his wife, Aunt Em, in a small, sparsely furnished one-room house which, like the treeless flat prairie, has been burned gray by the sun. So has Uncle Henry and Aunt Em, who never smile or laugh. There are no neighbors, but Dorothy laughs and plays with her dog, Toto, whom she loves dearly. One day a cyclone comes, and as Dorothy tries to get Toto, who has hidden under the bed, she falls on the floor from the shaking of the house. Before she can join her aunt and uncle in the storm cellar, the house rises in the air and is carried miles away.

Eventually, the house lands with a thud, and she finds herself in a marvelously beautiful country full of green grass, fruit trees, gorgeous flowers and brilliant birds. Some people, about her size but much older and oddly dressed, come and welcome her to the land of the Munchkins. They thank her for killing the Wicked Witch of the East and freeing them from bondage. Dorothy is confused until she is shown that the house has landed on the Witch, killing her.

Dorothy wants to go home, but doesn’t know how. The Good Witch of the North tells her to go to the City of Emeralds to ask the powerful Wizard of Oz for help. She gives Dorothy the Wicked Witch’s ruby slippers, which hold a charm unknown to anyone there. She directs Dorothy to take the yellow brick road to the City of Emeralds, and then suddenly disappears.

Dorothy sets off for the City of Emeralds, wearing the ruby shoes. She admires the beauty of the country and its abundant agricultural fields. Stopping to rest next to a cornfield, she is surprised to see a scarecrow wink at her and speak. He tells her how uncomfortable it is being stuck on a pole, so she releases him. When he laments that he has no brains, she invites him to join her to seek help from the Wizard.

They set off again and soon hear groans in the forest; the sounds are coming from a man made of tin who cannot move because his joints are rusted. He tells them where to find the oilcan and Dorothy and the Scarecrow oil his joints. When he asks to join them so that he could go to the Wizard for a heart, they welcome his company.

Just then a roaring lion comes bounding out of the forest and hits both the Tinman and Scarecrow, knocking them down. When he tries to bite Toto, Dorothy slaps him on the nose and calls him a coward, which he tearfully admits but cannot explain. The Lion joins their company, so he can ask the Wizard for courage. When they camp that night, the Tinman builds a fire for warmth, which the Scarecrow avoids for fear of flames.

Once out of the forest, they see the beautiful country on the other side of a river. The Yellow Brick Road runs through fields of brilliant flowers, including clusters of poppies that become a great meadow, which put Dorothy, Toto and the Lion to sleep. The Scarecrow and Tinman carry

Dorothy and Toto away from the flowers but can’t lift the heavy Lion and have to bring him in a cart.

They resume their journey and come to a country in which green is the favorite color, so they know it is the Land of Oz. When they ring the bell at the gate, the Guardian leads them into a room which, like the wall, is encrusted with emeralds. He questions them and tells them it is difficult to see the Wizard, but it is his duty to take them to the Palace.

The Guardian of the Gates leads them through the streets of the city, where everything and everyone is green, even the goods for sale in the shops. The city is rich with marble and emeralds, and everyone seems happy and prosperous. The Guardian takes them to the Palace, where a soldier takes their request to see the Wizard into the Throne Room. He returns with the news that Oz will see them.

Oz, who appears as a big head, asks her about the ruby slippers, he and tells her that in order to send her to Kansas, she must kill the Wicked Witch of the West in return, for everyone in Oz has to pay for what they get. None of them wish to kill the Witch, but since it is the only way to get what they want, they set off for the land of the Winkies where she lives.

The Witch can see far and spied the girl. The Witch sends her Winkie slaves to kill them, but they run in fear when the Lion roars. Puzzled at her inability to kill the strangers, she decides to use the Golden Cap that rules the Winged Monkeys since all her other powers were exhausted. The Cap’s charm allows a person to use it three times, and this is the Witch’s last turn. She calls the Monkeys with the magic words and when they come, she orders them to go after the group of friends. The Monkeys capture Dorothy and bring her to the witch, but in anger, Dorothy throws a bucket of water over the Witch, who melts away.

Dorothy calls the Winkies and tells them they are free, at which they rejoice for they had been treated very cruelly. They offer to help Dorothy in any way they can. The four friends are joyfully reunited, and then they set off to return to the Emerald City to have their wishes granted. The Winkies give them beautiful, rich parting gifts and beg the Tinman to remain and rule over them and their land, but he stays with his friends.

When the four friends arrive in front of the gate of the Emerald City, the Guardian is surprised to see them return. Hearing that Dorothy has melted the Wicked Witch, he welcomes them immediately and takes them directly to the Palace. They aren’t allowed to see the Wizard for a long time. They are finally allowed into the throne room, but in answer to their request to have their wishes granted as promised, the voice tells them to return the next day. They angrily refuse to wait. The Lion roars loudly to frighten the Wizard, and Toto jumps in alarm, knocking down a screen in the corner and revealing a little old man. He identifies himself as Oz, the Great and Terrible, but he admits being a common man, though no one else knows it.

He explains the tricks he uses to take on the different appearance they had seen, and he tells them that he was a balloonist from Omaha. When his balloon got carried away on an air current many years before, he landed in Oz and was believed to be a wizard. Because he had no magical powers and feared the Wicked Witches, he stayed inside the Palace and saw no one.

He regrets that he cannot keep his promises but offers them advice, and when pressed he gives them gifts: pins and needles in the Scarecrow’s head for brains; a silk heart placed inside the Tinman’s chest; and a drink of liquid that turns to courage when the Lion drinks it. They are all happy except Dorothy, for whom Oz does not have seem to have a solution. Eventually, he proposes making a balloon for leaving Oz, and he plans to go with her since he is tired of being a humbug hiding in the Palace.

When the balloon is finished and ready to go, the Wizard tells the people he is going on a visit, bids them goodbye, and tells them that the Scarecrow will rule over them. Meanwhile, Dorothy is chasing Toto who has run into the crowd, and by the time she catches him and has nearly reached the balloon, it breaks away and leaves without her. Oz is remembered lovingly by his people, who grieve over his departure, as does Dorothy and her friends.

Though Dorothy’s companions wish she would live with them in the Emerald City, she wants to return to Kansas and her aunt and uncle. Then the soldier suggests they seek help from Glinda, the most powerful of the four Witches, who lives in the Quadling land in the south near the desert. However he warns that the trip is dangerous, beset by wild beasts and strange men. Dorothy’s friends decide to accompany and protect her.

They began their journey in good spirits and enjoy the lovely countryside. When they finally reach Glinda’s castle, they are admitted at once. The Witch, seated on a ruby throne, is beautiful and kindly. Dorothy tells her story and says that she worries Aunt Em might think something has happened to her and might be sad.

Glinda says she can tell Dorothy how to go home using the ruby slippers. Had the girl known this, she could have returned to Kansas her first day in Oz, but her friends remind her that they would not have received their gifts if they had bypassed their long adventure. They all say goodbye tearfully and, as instructed by Glinda, Dorothy taps her heels together three times and says “Take me home to Aunt Em!”

In three swift steps through the air, Dorothy finds herself on the Kansas prairie, though the shoes have fallen off in the desert. There is a new farmhouse to replace the one lost in the cyclone, and when Aunt Em sees her, she covers her with kisses and holds her in her arms. Dorothy tells her that she has been in Oz and is very glad to be home again.


Dorothy Gale
A young orphan girl who lives with her aunt and uncle in Kansas. Dorothy is the picture of innocence, naivety, and sweetness. She is just looking for a place to belong.

Aunt Em and Uncle Henry
Dorothy’s aunt and uncle live a hard life on a Kansas farm during the time of “The Dustbowl.” Since Dorothy is one more mouth to feed, it is easy for them to lose sight of just how precious she is until they almost lose her.

A loyal friend, who asks the Wizard for a brain, Scarecrow learns that he can think and reason with the best of them. After the Wizard leaves, Scarecrow becomes the ruler of Oz.

Tin Woodman
He had originally been a human by the name of Nick Chopper, but gradually his human parts had been replaced with metal ones. Protective of Dorothy, the Tin Woodman seeks a heart from the Wizard only to find that his faith and caring are far beyond many of those who have a real heart.

The Cowardly Lion
Easily scared off at first, the Cowardly Lion faces his fears to protect his friends. He later becomes King of the Beasts in the Quadling Forest.

Glinda is the Good Witch of the South, ruler of the Quadling country in the south of Oz. She is often confused with the Good Witch of the North (often called Locasta or Tattypoo) because it was the Good Witch of the North who (in the book) met Dorothy in the Munchkin country. However, in the 1939 film version and most retellings since, it is Glinda who fills that role.

While Toto is a non-speaking character, as Dorothy’s constant companion, Toto plays a vital role the play as Dorothy’s sympathetic best friend who shares her struggles.

II. Historical Background

The Book:
Written in 1900 by L. Frank Baum, there has been some mystery surrounding the meaning of The Wizard of Oz, including theories about political statements against Hitler or the socio-economic troubles of late 19th century America. However, Baum himself wrote the following:
Folklore, legends, myths and fairy tales have followed childhood through the ages, for every healthy youngster has a wholesome and instinctive love for stories fantastic, marvelous and manifestly unreal. The winged fairies of Grimm and Andersen have brought more happiness to childish hearts than all other human creations. Yet the old time fairy tale, having served for generations, may now be classed as "historical" in the children's library; for the time has come for a series of newer "wonder tales" in which the stereotyped genie, dwarf and fairy are eliminated, together with all the horrible and blood-curdling incidents devised by their authors to point a fearsome moral to each tale. Modern education includes morality; therefore the modern child seeks only entertainment in its wonder tales and gladly dispenses with all disagreeable incident. Having this thought in mind, the story of "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" was written solely to please children of today. It aspires to being a modernized fairy tale, in which the wonderment and joy are retained and the heartaches and nightmares are left out.
(L. Frank Baum Chicago, April, 1900)

That being said, one would be hard-pressed to find a single enthusiast of this novel that truly believes this story has nothing to offer but frivolous entertainment. The fact that the story has resurfaced over and over again in various forms speaks to the undeniable truth that Baum has artfully crafted a world in which children and adults alike can explore life themes in an awe-inspiring and wondrous environment, accompanied by some loyal and virtuous friends. “Despite the wild popularity of the Oz books, and Baum's self-designation as the “Royal Historian of Oz,” according to Janet Witalec, “critics and educators virtually ignored Baum's achievements for nearly thirty years. They deemed his humorous, sometimes irreverent, approach ‘unwholesome’ and considered his work insignificant in comparison to children's classics like Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Edward Wagenknecht, in a study published ten years after Baum's death, was the first critic to argue that such comparisons were inappropriate. He and later critics contend that Baum's Oz books are important for they represent ‘the first distinctive attempt to construct a fairyland out of American materials,’ and because they convey a uniquely American concept of Utopia.

More recent criticism of the Land of Oz books has focused on some of the darker aspects of Oz. Some commentators have argued that the theme of the primacy of home and family usually attributed to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz actually comes from the 1939 film based on the book. These critics point out the rather grim description in the book of Dorothy's home, which Baum depicts as being desperately lonely and tedious. Still other critics have observed political allusions in the Oz books, contending in particular that the Yellow Brick Road symbolizes the debate over the gold standard in turn of the century American politics. Most critics believe that Baum should have heeded his instincts and discontinued the series when he first planned. They note that the later books, such as The Lost Princess of Oz (1917) and The Magic of Oz (1919), appear hastily written and lack structure, style, and humor. But commentators agree that at his best Baum was an original and innovative writer who created the most popular and imitated children's story of the century.”
Witalec, Janet. Twentieth-century Literature Criticism:Criticism of the Works of Novelists, Poets, Playwrights, Short Story Writers, and Other Creative Writers Who Lived between 1900 and 1999, from the First Published Critical Appraisals to Current Evaluations. Vol. 132. Detroit, MI: Gale, 2003. This full biography can be found at

The Author :
L. Frank Baum (1856-1919), children's author, playwright, and journalist, wrote under numerous pseudonyms including Edith Van Dyne (Aunt Jane's Nieces and Mary Louise series), Floyd Akers, Capt. Hugh Fitzgerald, John Estes Cooke, Laura Bancroft, Schuyler Staunton, and Suzanne Metcalf.

Lyman Frank Baum was born 15 May, 1856 in Chittenango, New York. His father was Benjamin Ward Baum, who would make a fortune in Pennsylvania Oil, and his mother Cynthia Stanton. Frank, as he preferred to be called, was born with a weak heart, so he wasn't a boisterous child. He was home-schooled and, having few playmates, he also spent hours reading in his father's library. He developed an aversion to the usual scary creatures and violence of folklore and popular children's fairytales of the time and created his own adaptations in order to give other children, including later his own, delight. Baum's childhood and home life with nine siblings was happy and no doubt set the tone for his future Oz series.

In 1869 Baum entered the Peekskill Military School but the atmosphere of harsh discipline and strenuous activity was too much for him physically and he was removed. The experience left him with distaste for academics and the military, though his creativity was undaunted and he turned to creative writing. After his father bought him a printing press, with his younger brother Harry, he started his own newspaper: the Rose Lawn Home Journal, named after the family estate. Baum started to write the articles, editorials, fiction, and poetry that would fill its pages. He would also write about the raising and breeding of chickens in The Book of Hamburgs (1896).

At the age of twenty-five, Baum started studying theatre in New York City. From 1881 to 1882 he managed an opera house in Richburg, New York. He wrote the play The Maid of Arran in 1882, in which he acted. On November 9, 1882 he married Maud Gage with whom he would have four children. Baum became a theosophist, his beliefs often reflected in his writings. He left theatre life in 1883 to go into private business, though it floundered for a few years, and in 1888, he decided to move the family to Aberdeen, South Dakota. He opened a department store there, which failed. He edited the newspaper, Saturday Pioneer, though it failed too. In 1891, the Baums moved to Chicago. After more failed attempts to establish himself financially, Baum, encouraged by his mother-in-law, started to write down the nursery rhymes he had improvised and told to his sons over the years. Mother Goose in Prose was published in 1897. It met with rave reviews, and in 1899, he collaborated with Chicago cartoonist and poster designer W. W. Denslow on yet another success—Father Goose: His Book. It would be the best-selling book for that year with an estimated 175,000 copies sold.

1900 was the year that the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was published to instant success, another collaboration between Baum and Denslow. A copy sold for $1.50. It would be adapted as a musical for a long run on Broadway in 1903 to critical acclaim. Encouraged by positive reviews, Baum turned his full attentions to writing. Under various pseudonyms he would also write many children's stories, songbooks and plays such as Mary Louise. (1916) The next book in the Oz series, The Land of Oz, (1904) was Baum's response to the demand for more and also to supplement his dwindling finances due to the high theatre production costs of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Ozma of Oz, (1907) Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz (1908), and The Road to Oz (1909) followed. America now had its own home-spun fairy tale which combined elements of traditional magic, a witch, and make-believe fantasy of a talking scarecrow and tin man. Dorothy and her dog exemplify the girl next door and the cyclone sweeping them away from home and the ensuing journey back appeals universally. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has been translated into many different languages all over the world. The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus was published in 1902 and The Enchanted Island of Yew in 1903.

The Baum family moved to Hollywood, California in 1910, whereupon the release and success of The Emerald City of Oz (1910) overshadowed The Sea Fairies (1911) and Sky Island (1912). Baum had to declare bankruptcy in 1911. Thereafter, he referred to himself as "Royal Historian of Oz" and commenced writing one Oz book per year including: The Patchwork Girl of Oz (1913), Tik-Tok of Oz (1914), The Scarecrow of Oz (1915), Rinkitink in Oz (1916), The Lost Princess of Oz (1917), The Tin Woodman of Oz (1918), The Magic of Oz (1919), and Glinda of Oz, his last book published posthumously. Baum started the Oz Film Manufacturing Company which experimented with film effects and he would write many and direct two but the company folded a year later. He started acting again with an amateur group called The Uplifters.

Still suffering from a frail heart three years later, Baum became bedridden due to failing health. L. Frank Baum died of a stroke on 6 May, 1919 and is buried in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery. An obituary was printed in the New York Times 8 May, 1919 edition.

L. Frank Baum's papers and manuscripts are housed at Columbia University. From an inscription in a book that Baum had given his sister he notes: “I have learned to regard fame as a will-o-the-wisp, which when caught, is not worth the possession; but to please a child is a sweet and lovely thing that warms one's heart and brings its own reward.” To Please a Child: A Biography of L. Frank Baum, Royal Historian of Oz (1961) was written by Baum's son, Frank J. Baum and Russell P. MacFall. The Baum Bugle is a journal founded by the International Wizard of Oz Club in 1957.

The Dustbowl
Drought was nothing new to the farmers of western Kansas. Since their fathers and grandfathers had settled there in the 1870s, there had been dry periods interspersed with times of sufficient rainfall. But the drought that descended on the Central Plains in 1931 was more severe than most could remember.

Many factors led to “The Dust Bowl.” The increased demand for wheat during World War I, the development of new mechanized farm machinery along with falling wheat prices in the 1920s, led to millions of acres of native grassland being replaced by heavily disked fields of straight row crops. Four years of drought shriveled the crops and left the loose top soil to the mercy of the ever-present winds.

On Sunday, April 14, 1935, called Black Sunday, a massive front moved across the Great Plains from the northwest. Packing winds of 60 miles per hour, the loose topsoil was scooped up and mounded into billowing clouds of dust hundreds of feet high. People hurried home, for to be caught outside could mean suffocation and death. The dust and darkness halted all forms of transportation and the fine silt sifting through any crack or joint forced the closure of hospitals, flour mills, schools and businesses.

Some met this incredible hardship and gave up. Others stayed, living on hope, humor and stubbornness. Farmers listened to the advice of the U.S. Soil Conservation Service and began strip farming and contour farming, restoring pastureland and planting hundreds of miles of wind breaks. With concerted effort and favorable weather conditions, the land was made to bloom again as the breadbasket of the nation.

More information and images can be found at and
III. Elements of Production

About The Production:
Director Mark Booher’s early acting and directing experience in Shakespearean festivals cultivated a love of language, but it also cultivated an aptitude and appetite the epic stories. We don’t often compare The Wizard of Oz to The Odyssey, but—at its heart—The Wizard of Oz is a genuine hero’s journey in both theme and structure. Its epic qualities are evident as we follow Dorothy on her full-circle adventure, making this story the classic that it is. In addition, this tale is ripe with opportunity for a large-scale physical interpretation, which Mark is especially excited about: “In high school, I quit the football team to join dance. Musical theater became a big part of my life, so I connect to material in a physical way. I connect to works that have big kinetic elements, works with a vibrant physical life.”

This play certainly calls out for a vibrant physical life, and as Mark describes, it is both great and famous, which is intimidating. Everyone who has read or seen the story already has a version of the story in their mind. Over a billion people have seen Judy Garland as Dorothy, and that production cost MGM approximately $3 million in 1939 (about $45 million in today’s economics). Quite simply, that cannot be duplicated. Besides, Mark does not want to create a “knock-off” version of the MGM movie. He explains, “I want to find the root elements of each scene that evoke the same emotion—the same sense of wonder, but I do not want to create some derivative of the movie that triggers a particular memory of their version.” That would be cheating the audience out of an authentic experience with the story, and that is why there will be stylistically familiar elements but lots of innovative style choices as well.

The team made the decision early on to keep the pre-Oz story in 1930’s Kansas. Dorothy will wear a blue dress that will feel familiar, but she will be notably barefoot until she gets her Ruby slippers. We want to acknowledge the setting: depression-era Kansas, during the dustbowl. Consequently, Mary Janes and bobby socks are not realistic for a mid-western orphan girl. Since Oz is a place out of time, we are playing quite a bit with the style. Audiences will notice influences from the Renaissance to Steampunk.

Another unique element of this interpretation is the spectacle of puppetry, which invites wonder and imagination. Working with The Puppet Kitchen, a New York based puppet studio, we are bringing over 50 dynamic puppets to the stage, including Toto, the munchkins, crows, flying monkeys, and others. Furthermore, to highlight the enormity of the story, this performance will expand the sense of stage space out into the aisles, traps, and lighting rigs.

The scale and playfulness of this production reflect the company’s respect for all things childlike. As Mark points out, “true of every artist is that we cultivate attributes in ourselves that are childlike—hopefully, not childish—but we spend time nurturing that childlike sense of wonder. For instance, the more sophisticated I get, the more wonder I find in children’s literature. As children, we are introduced to large concepts for the first time through extended fables. As a director who is also a dad, children’s literature is a part of my life on a daily basis.”

While childlike and wonderful, The Wizard of Oz tackles some complex themes, which is something that inspires this director. He connects with plays that give us a glimpse of something we may otherwise not have access to, and he is excited by the opportunity to act as a transmitter for that glimpse into what is beyond our current understanding.

As a father with an adopted daughter and wife who was adopted, Dorothy’s orphan status is not lost on Mark. While this element is somewhat brushed aside in the film version, Mark wants to highlight the deeper side of Dorothy’s search for belonging: “If you read the lyrics to ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’ as poetry, it’s heartbreaking. Here is this little girl who wants so badly to leave the place she’s in that she would rather fly away to this ethereal place, perhaps where her parents are, but she can’t. She can’t fly like the bluebirds.” That’s why this production “begins and ends in Dorothy’s heart.” She is finding her heart’s home, and we are allowed to go with her on that search.

That sense of alliance with Dorothy is underscored by the medium of live theater. While so many have experienced this story through film, theater is special because, as Mark describes, “the performance exists in an authentic relationship with the audience in a way that no other art form exists. A play will adapt to the audience—it listens to you while you listen to it. You may watch Judy Garland perform ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’ 20 times, and she will give you the same amazing performance every time, but if you come to see this play 20 times, you will see 20 different plays. When I’m working on blocking, I always leave space for the last character: the audience.”

That emotional investment the audience finds in the performance is both important and daunting. While there is fun and lightness in this play, there are dark elements as well, just as there are in every good fable. After all, light means nothing without shadow, but the production is not intentionally macabre. It is only as dark as the story requires. While the power of imagination can be powerful and even scary for some, the audience can find comfort in the collective experience of theater. Not only can we find comfort in each other as audience members, but we also have a friend in the storyteller and the unspoken promise of a happily ever after.

Mark reminds us that “theater is the gymnasium for the soul. It’s where we workout in the pleasant confines of finite circumstances, build emotional resiliency, and challenge the flexibility of our imagination. Storytime is rehearsal for living. It lets us feel things and then talk about those feelings, but our culture has cut out much of this in favor of numbness, but there is no skill set in the world that humans should have in place of first being human.” The conversations this play inspires are endlessly fruitful, and despite Baum’s insistence that the story was “solely to please children,” the values and lessons explored in this tale are what continue to make it great throughout the generations.

Scenic Design:
Scenic designer, DeAnne Kennedy, created the world of Oz as we see it on the stage of the Marian Theater. From renderings to construction, every scene element enhances the look of the production. Artistic staff and production staff work hand in hand to create an environment that expresses the story’s plot, while being pragmatic as physical elements of the stage that must be manipulated from scene to scene. Style packets are created that include images that may inspire the look and feel of the play. For example, this green glass object is an inspiration piece for the Land of Oz.
Small scale models, including traps, are created to give the build team a design to work from.

Because the Marian has a round stage, the floor is given a distinctive design.
Puppet Design:
Puppet designer, Emily DeCola, and her team from Puppet Kitchen work from inspiration pieces, sketches, and small mock-up as well.

Here are a couple munchkin sketches.
Because of how some characters articulate, technical drawings are also created.
The miniature mock ups start to take on a personality.
Costume Design:
Costume Designer Fred Deeben created the following renderings to assist the director and other designers in imagining how the costume element would enhance telling the story for The Wizard of Oz. The renderings are a very important step in making sure the costumes are constructed to the designer‘s specifications.
IV. Vocabulary and Activities

Basic Theater Vocabulary:
Apron: the stage floor between the front edge of the stage and front curtain

Aside: a piece of dialogue intended for the audience and supposedly not heard by the other actors on stage.

Blocking: the director's planned movement for characters

Build: the increase of vocal intensity toward a climatic point

Cross: when an actor moves from one side of the stage to the other

Full Back/Front: facing completely away from the audience or completely toward the audience

Fourth Wall: the imaginary wall through which the audience views the play

Gelatins: transparent color sheets inserted into a frame in front of a spotlight or floodlight

House Lights: auditorium lights

Monologue: a speech presented by a single character, most often to express their thoughts aloud, to another character(s).

Motivation: a specific reason for saying or doing something

Project: increase voice or actions so they will carry to the audience

Soliloquy: a speech in which one actor speaks aloud revealing his or her inner thoughts. Unlike a monologue, a soliloquy is not directed at another character.

Thrust Stage: a stage that goes into the audience

Voice-over: the voice of an unseen narrator

Wings: offstage to the right and left of the acting area

Stage Diagram:

Discussion Topics (For Grades 7-12):
1. The depression was a difficult time for our nation, and The Dustbowl was an additional burden for Kansas. How do these conditions affect the relationship Dorothy has with her family?

2. Oz is wondrous and magical place, but magic can’t fix everything. What problems does Oz still have? What could be done to fix them?

3. Each character in The Wizard of Oz seems to have his or her own ambitions. What do each of these characters want most of all?
• Dorothy
• Cowardly Lion
• Scarecrow
• Tin Woodsman
• The Wizard
• The Wicked Witch

4. Eventually, The Scarecrow becomes the ruler of Oz after the professor leaves. What qualities make him a good leader? Do you think someone else would have been a better choice? Why or why not?

5. Dorothy is an innocent, young girl. How is she able to cope with all the struggles she encounters? On what qualities and resources does she draw?

6. Through their adventures, many of the characters find that they already possess the one thing they were looking for (e.g. heart, courage, brains, etc.). Does this happen in real life? Why do you think some people don’t see their own good qualities? How can friends help them see their own value?

7. The puppets used in this production add a special element of wonder and life to the play, but not all the characters are played by puppets. Why do you think some characters are played by real people? How would the play change if all the characters were puppets?

8. The Wizard of Oz can be seen as a hero’s journey. What does this mean for the structure of the play, as well as some themes you might expect to see? What other hero’s journey stories do you know and how are they similar or different?

9. When Dorothy gets back home to Kansas, her relationship with her family has changed. Dramatic events often change the way people relate to each other. Can you think of events from recent history that have brought people closer together?

10. L. Frank Baum says that he wrote this story for the pleasure of children and nothing more. However, most readers would disagree. What themes and values do you think are represented in this story? Be prepared to use evidence from the play to support your theories.

Activities (For Grades 7-12):
1) Letter writing: Have students write letters to characters from the play, from the point of view of another character. Try to imitate the way that character speaks as much as possible.

a. You are Auntie Em, and Dorothy is unconscious on the bed. Write a letter telling Dorothy how you feel about her. Start from the time you started looking after her until now. How have your feelings changed? What do you want her to know?

b. You are Dorothy and you are back in Kansas after your adventure. Write a letter to Scarecrow explaining why you are glad to be back home, but be sure to also tell him what you miss about Oz.

c. You are Glinda the Good Witch. Write a letter to The Wicked Witch of the West persuading her to be good. Keep in mind why you think she is bad and why it would benefit her to turn good.

d. You are one of the Munchkins. Write a letter to Dorothy, telling her how things have changed since she left. How is life now that the Wicked Witch of the East is gone? What do you do differently? Is anything not as good as it used to be?

2) Hot Seating is used as a device to explore a character in more depth by creating past events and events outside of the text. One person chooses to be a character in the play and is asked questions about his or her life outside the text. The person being hot seated must form answers that make sense for the character based on the context of the play. Hot Seat one of the more minor characters like one of the servants. What insights does he offer about the other characters and the story? Write a diary entry for the character based on the story that materializes from this exercise.

3) Improvisation of scenes relating to the play: In groups of 4 create an imaginary incident, prior to Dorothy’s arrival in Oz that shows what the characters have been up to. Explain how your scene can deepen an audience’s understanding of various character dynamics.

4) Human Sculptures: A few of the most obvious and important themes in The Wizard of Oz are family, friendship, loyalty, and bravery. In pairs explore one of these themes, choose which you are going to represent first and together form a sculpture expressing it. Slowly move into another sculpture expressing the same theme. Have classmates guess which theme you are representing.

5) Storyboarding: Imagine you are adapting this play for the big screen. Sketch a storyboard for one scene. Be prepared to explain your directorial choices. For storyboarding instructions, vocabulary, and examples, go to

6) Improvisation/ Character Work:
• The teacher will place signs around the room, each with a main character’s name on it.

• Each student should pick a main character to portray. In their portrayals, they should think about these things: how does their character walk? What gestures do they make? How does he/she feel emotionally? What is his/her focus?

• Have one student volunteer be the observer. The observer will watch the actors and try to distinguish which character each student is portraying.

• Have your students walk around an open space as their character. One by one, the observer will tap each student’s shoulder and put each student in one of the 5 groups based on which character the observer believes they are playing.

• At the end, see if everyone is in the right group. Talk about what movements, gestures, pace, and stance gave clues to the characters. You can repeat this exercise again as much as you’d like with different observers.

7) More Improvisation: Break the class up into groups of 3-5 students. Give them 10 minutes to decide what are the main five points or events in the story. The group will create tableau pictures (frozen poses that tell a story) to represent each of their main points. Have one person narrate the caption of each tableau like a living picture book. Have each group take turns with their tableau story and watch each group in turn as they quickly go from one frame to the next, freezing only ten seconds or so between each to let the audience see. This exercise quickly lets us all discuss what we think are the main events or plot points in the play.

8) Silent Soliloquy: A soliloquy is like a monologue in that only one character is speaking. However, it is not directed toward another character. It is the character’s inner dialogue (performed aloud) as he is talking to himself about his own thoughts and feelings. For this exercise, choose a character who audiences don’t usually sympathize with, such as the Wicked Witch or the flying monkeys. Then write a soliloquy that tells us more about that character. What do we understand from this soliloquy? Can we sympathize with this character more because we understand them better?

9) Adaptation: The Wizard of Oz has been recreated for stage and screen many times, and directors are always at liberty to create a new version of Oz because it exists outside of traditional time and place. If you were to recreate Oz with an unlimited budget, what would it look like? How would characters interact within that space? Create set and costume sketches to create a mini production. (If sketches are beyond students’ skill level, have them find inspiration pieces online and in magazines).

10) Research Project: Research 1930’s Kansas, and write an essay, complete with images/illustrations, that explains what life would have been like for this rural family.

Activities (For Younger Students):
1) Illustrating Scenes: Ask students what their favorite part of the play was. Ask them to draw a picture of that scene.

2) Lessons: Ask students to share what they think Dorothy learned. What did other characters learn?

3) Home: Write a poem or short story about home and why home is special.

4)Wizard of Oz Word Search
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