A Bag to Brag About

You're in your grade-school seat stiff with anticipation. You have no idea what the teacher is saying. Timmy's picking his nose, and for once you don't care enough to announce it. But you gotta show someone; it's so cool. You can't even believe Mom let you get it. You've wanted it for so long and now you'll be the envy of all your classmates. So you pull it gingerly from your backpack and gesture to Tommy, then Jacob, then Christie and Sally. Then, as if from the sky, a hand reaches down and confiscates your newest possession. Mr. Johnson says you can get it not at recess (when you'd planned on showing it around), not at lunch (when everyone would talk about it) but at the end of the day. The whole day.

What is it? What's this amazing, attention-grabbing thing? Actually, it doesn't matter, because the next day someone will bring something else in and your prized show-off will be forgotten. The forgetting is nothing personal, just very much a part of elementary school. Think back and remember. It was a time when a kid would hit both boys and girls with a dodgeball, when girls wore shorts under their dresses, the school book fair was just about the coolest thing ever and boys thought the girls had candy machines in their bathrooms. Grade-school fame lasted all of one afternoon, and the next day someone and something new popped into the spotlight.

It's Lilly's turn in the public eye as the Plano Repertory Theatre presents, for the 2003 Children's Series, Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse, beginning Monday, June 30. The show is an adaptation for the stage of Kevin Kling's children's book series, including Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse, Julius, the Baby of the World and Chester's Way. Lilly experiences the ole "show it and lose it" routine when she excitedly shares her perfect bag with everyone, despite the fact that she should be paying attention in class. With the true drama of a youngster, Lilly feels the blow, and her day is nothing but ruined. Ruined until she hashes out her feelings and realizes that some forgiveness is due to a certain authority figure.

Kids will identify with the story, and all signs point to their loving it, too, which is good, considering the play teaches many an important lesson. Yet, the PRT doesn't stop teaching or helping when the curtain closes on the mouse and her lavender luggage. The performances coincide with the "Visit the Stage, Read the Page" book drive that benefits Even Start of Plano, a family literacy organization that provides lower-income families literacy programs for all age levels. Audience members should bring new and used books to donate to the program. Kids and parents can learn about forgiveness and charity in one efficient journey. (Parents, think of it this way: Once the kiddos have chunked one of their books in the bin and learned they're helping a fellow tyke, think of how much better they will understand that whole consolidating the toys for Goodwill thing.)

Based on the PRT Children's Series' previous shows repeatedly selling out, it's a fair claim that the talent is good, the stories capture many a tiny mind and it might be a good idea to go ahead and snag those tickets...just don't let them get taken up by the teacher.