Charlotte Chorpenning once said, “Fairy tales are the voices of long ago and far away, calling to the yearnings of today,” (Maes). All cultures and all countries are rich with stories of magic, mystery, and adventure; Chorpenning took these rich stories and put them on the stage for children. Passionate about children and teaching them, Charlotte Chorpenning served as the voice and writings of the children’s theatre world in the middle twentieth century by writing and adapting countless plays for children. Charlotte Chorpenning’s writings and adaptations of children’s plays have changed the world of children’s theatre by nearly doubling the repertoire for children’s theatre while continually portraying a traditional moral message in her plays.
Chorpenning’s experience with teaching and dealing with children helped form and influence her writings. Before she started to write and adapt children’s plays, Chorpenning was an English teacher in Minnesota, and she taught there until the early twenties. This is where she started to learn about children and find out what they liked and what would entertain them on the stage. She also directed children’s plays before she began writing them. She spent several years directing plays at the Goodman Theatre. This is where she realized that what she really wanted to do was write plays for children. Therefore, when she was sixty years old, she followed her dream and began to write for children.
Before Chorpenning started writing, there were very few children’s plays, which is one of the reasons that she was so interested in writing specifically for children. Before Chorpenning, there were only a handful of plays that catered specifically to children. By the time she died, she had double the repertoire for children’s plays by herself by adding adaptations of well known titles such as Jack and the Beanstalk, The Emperor’s New Clothes, and Cinderella; and by adding several of her own original plays.
Chorpenning’s early writings and adaptations were received will by critics because of the way that they stayed true to the original story and because of the way that they always ended with a strong moral message. While reviewing one of Chorpenning’s plays, critic Todd Everest stated, “[In her play Many Moons], Chorpenning’s script retains much of the original language, as well as the...