Virginia Ralph, a longtime member of the Voices of the South theater company, relaxes with a tall glass of iced tea and casually, almost sweetly confesses that she's about to lose her mind. She's got that oh-my-God-we-open-in-a-week feeling theater people know all too well. Only for Ralph the sensation is cranked up since she's not only acting in An Old Forest Fairy Tale, an original work and the centerpiece for Voices of the South's annual Children's Theatre Festival, she's also the show's principal writer.
Ralph, who wrote An Old Forest Fairy Tale with her daughter Janie, describes the play as being autobiographically inspired. "It's about a little girl who lives near the old forest and who really likes fairies," she says.
The little girl is eventually sucked into the fairy world only to discover it's nothing like the images she's seen in illustrations of A Midsummer Night's Dream. She finds herself on the road with a troupe of traveling actors, including a planet (Pluto, the smallest), a whale, and a polar bear. One of the stock plays the company performs is called The Saving of the Old Forest, about how a group of "old women in tennis shoes" stopped a bulldozer from knocking down the trees to make way for an interstate.
"It's performed as an operetta," says Ralph, an accomplished musician and composer. "The little girl doesn't know the story, but the fairies all do."
Voices of the South's Children's Theatre Festival also features performances by several companies, including Theatre Memphis' ShoWagon, Cazateatro, Delta Arts, Germantown Community Theatre, and Chatterbox Audio Theatre.
Voices of the South's Children's Theatre Festival at the McCoy Theatre at Rhodes College, Saturday, May 26th,
9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Pay What you can.