Homework and heartstrings

BENJI It’s hard to concentrate on Pre-Calc homework, because you’re in that class with me, and college and differential equations just can’t compete.

— Budgeting Better

For Kenny and Benji, hours studying pre-calc and trig turn the boys from “study buddies” to boyfriends. And tonight in rehearsal, a practical question about how to get their piles of math homework offstage turned into a moment of ’90s nostalgia when we discovered that some of the under-30s in the room didn’t know what a Trapper Keeper was.


Vintage Trapper Keepers

The Trapper Keeper was the rare school supply that was both functional and expressional. A three-ring binder that contained “trapper folders,” this all-in-one notebook, binder, and folder allowed students to travel light to class by switching out folders and then take everything home at night in one easy-to-carry package. But best of all, Trapper Keepers came in loads of funky colors with all sorts of designs, from dogs and cats to space aliens to Ninja Turtles. I imagine a Trapper Keeper with George Michael on it would be the height of ’90s cool.

According to propsmistress Molly, there’s something of a “cult” of Trapper Keeper collectors and fanatics, and a vintage Trapper Keeper in good condition can go for over $50 on Ebay. For the uninitiated, Mental Floss has a surprisingly extensive case study of the history and nostalgia factor of Trappers here. One aficianado compared Trapper Keepers to Smartphones: they were “the greatest three-ring binder ever created … Trapper Keepers—the way they combined all of one’s desktop tools—were an early incarnation of the smartphone.”

It was fun to be able to show your personality through the binder that you had. You don’t really remember a notebook or the pens and pencils you used. But maybe you remember your [Trapper Keeper]. The binder wasn’t a regular school product. When you got it, it was almost like a Christmas present. You were excited to have it.

— Peter Bartlett, Director of Product Innovation for AACO Brands, a producer of Trapper Keepers

Lisa Frank

This one’s cool no matter what decade.


Making passes

Benji and Kenny need to be sneakier than ever when passing love notes in class, and that means stealth origami.

Watch Assistant Stage Manager Sara teach us how to make origami hearts:

Here’s our handiwork from rehearsal.


In the script binder for safekeeping.


Bonus appearance by the dramaturg's '90s-era flip phone.

Bonus appearance by the dramaturg’s ’90s-era flip phone.


Just like a four-leaf clover.


Land and lighting

Our lighting designer Jen shared this awesome photo as inspiration for the feel of the Midwest depicted in EDITH.

Tornado over Farmhouse in Kansas

The vastness of the land and country lends itself to many interpretations of what Rey means when he says the “remotest remote” Midwest. What does your Midwest look like?

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Jungle jammin’

Shifting rehearsal spaces have the EDITH team thinking about design and structure this week, in particular the influence of the vastness of the Midwest and what it really means to see the world through the eyes of a child or teenager. One of the images that came up was that of a jungle gym. Below are some examples that we liked for the way the structures mimic parts of barns and rafters.


“NO GROWN-UPS!” insists the title page of EDITH. “The shadows in FOR MOTHER can be done with puppets, projections, or something else non-human.” Rey plays on childhood fears of the unknown, giving Edith, Kenny, and Benji dangers in the especially-theatrical shape of shadows, silences, and sound. Adults are talked about throughout the play, but never seen. This gives our production team a chance to work some theatrical magic for a climactic scene where Edith sharp-shoots the shadow of … someone … or something!

Simple lighting tricks and some magic with angles can turn anything into a dangerous looming shadow. Or turn household objects — even stuff that looks like junk — into a person, a ship, or a whole city. A shadow can tell a story, and we’re really excited to see what non-human elements our designers come up with for Edith’s targets.

Check out some shadow art below:

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Our propsmaster Molly also introduced the EDITH team to the work of Manual Cinema, a Chicago-based troupe that uses shadow puppetry and live foley effects to tell stories and make short videos. Check them out!


“Who goes there!” A preview from last weekend’s photoshoot

Early Design Spotlight: Costumes

For our second production meeting, Costume Designer Rafael Jaen, shared his working Pinterest board where he’s compiled points of inspiration and early ideas.

The play is set in the 1990s rural midwest, and is told entirely through the lives of teenagers. Check out Rafael’s work!