U-M professor José Casas' "The Imagination Place" is a play to be performed by families at home


Jose Casas

Have you ever wanted to direct a play? Have you ever wanted to cast your kid in the leading role? Have you ever wanted to stage the whole theatrical event in your living room?

If your answer to every question is "no," that's reasonable because directing is a lot of work, nepotism is bad, and who wants to mess up an adequately clean living room?

But perhaps the Covid crisis has you saying "yes" to things you would've never considered before since you're running out of things to do in the adequately clean house you've been cooped-up in for five months.

Well, then, perhaps the idea of directing a play in your living room starring your kid is back on the table.

If you don't know which play to produce, you're in luck: U-M professor José Casas joined seven fellow playwrights who wrote commissioned scripts for California's La Jolla Playhouse. The works are free to access online for everyone and are aimed, respectively, at elementary, middle, and high school students. The plays can be performed with two to six people, depending on the story, with no requirements for costumes, props, or sets -- since we all know the set will be your adequately clean living room or even your mostly maintained backyard.

Casas' play for La Jolla's "Family Play Night" project, The Imagination Place (Lugar da Imaginação), is aimed at elementary/middle school kids and can be performed by two or more people. It's a "true story from a magical toy shop" that's about the friendship between a 70-year-old toyrmaker and a 7-year-old boy who visits the store, which has been a neighborhood mainstay for 40 years.

Casas was recently selected to receive a Henry Russel Award, the University of Michigan's "highest honor for faculty members at the early to mid-career stages of their careers."

So, not only do you get to cast your kid in a leading role, you get to do it in a world-premiere play written by an award-winning University of Michigan playwright.

Break a leg, wear a mask.

Christopher Porter is a library technician and the editor of Pulp.