New Victory Blog

The New Victory Blog is a place to learn more about New York's theater for families and the shows we produce. Find out what we do and what we're passionate about—exploring the arts as a family.
January 9, 2017

Family Activity: Elephant & Piggie's We Are in a Play

Play with illustration, pantomime and adapting a story into a show in this Family Activity especially created for 4-7 year olds! For each show in the season, we post a new Family Activity. You can find all of our past Family Activities on our blog and at    

Draw Piggie
Did you know that the show Elephant and Piggie’s We Are in a Play! is based on the famous children’s books by Mo Willems? Learn how to draw Piggie from the illustrator himself! 

BONUS: In the show, Elephant and Piggie don’t look like they do in the books (see picture below). In that spirit, pick a favorite animal and find clothes in your closet that are the same color as that animal. Maybe you could be a crocodile and wear a green shirt or be a flamingo and wear a pink dress!
Elephant and Piggie

Playing with Pantomime
In the play, Elephant and Piggie realize that anything is possible. In this activity, discover if anything is possible for your family too. 

Materials: Slips of paper, writing utensil, bag or hat

Step One: On slips of paper write down some action words or activities. Use this list as inspiration or write your own!

The Actions

Step Two: Once you have your actions written down, put them in a bag or hat and pull them out one by one and do that action. 

Step Three: Now try doing more than one at at a time. Can you skip AND play ping-pong WHILE wearing silly hats? Elephant and Piggie can! It becomes even more fun if you make sound effects that go along with the actions. 

From Story to Stage

Elephant & Piggie's We Are in a Play is an adaptation of the popular storybooks written by Mo Willems. The Kennedy Center then took those stories and turned them into a musical! If you were to make a show based on a storybook, what would it be?

Write Your Script!

The first step in adapting a story for the stage is turning the text into a script.

Materials: Downloadable script template, writing utensils

Step One: As a family, choose a favorite storybook. Ask yourself these questions: 
  • What makes this story so special?

  • What memories do you have reading this story together?

  • What is your favorite part of the story and why?
Step Two: Go through the book and create a list of all the characters in the story.

Step Three: Next, using our script template, write down the lines the characters say in the story. This is your script!

Script Template

BONUS: Adults – watch the video below from Kennedy Center Theater for Young Audiences On Tour and hear about the writing and creation process of the show. 
Cast Your Characters

Now that you have lines, it’s time to cast your play and get into character! 

Materials: Downloadable casting template, writing utensils, costuming materials

Step One: Think about each character in the story. What are their personalities like? Is one particularly grumpy? Maybe that part goes to Grandpa! Decide on which family member will play each role and assign the roles using our casting template.

Casting Template

Step Two: Practice performing your lines in different theatrical ways. Try:
  • Changing your voice

  • Playing with a new posture

  • Walking the way you think your character would walk
Step Three: It’s time to add costumes. A costume piece helps an actor get into the spirit of the character. Choose something that you think your character would wear, or a color that represents who they are.

HINT: If you are playing an animal, try to find an article of clothing that looks like fur or scales (depending on the animal of course!).

Step Four: Have a fashion show and show each other what you chose to wear for the play. Try doing this in character!

Create Your Set

There are many elements that make storytelling theatrical, including the set, sound and lighting. Theatrical design helps to establish the mood of the characters’ world and it provides hints for the audience to understand what they are watching. How can you transform your living space into a theatrical world?

Materials: Furniture, blankets or sheets

Step One: Look around your room to decide where the stage should be and where the audience will sit. 

Step Two: Talk about the world of your play and the elements that it contains. Does it take place in an ocean? A bustling city? A forest? On the moon?! 

Step Three: Transform the room using furniture and tables as set pieces. Get creative and drape fabric over chairs to create different shapes. 

Step Four: Once you have your set in place, rehearse the story you have created.

Step Five: Perform your play for your family and friends. Don’t forget to take your bow! 

BONUS: Adults – watch the video below from Kennedy Center Theater for Young Audiences On Tour  and hear from the people who created the look and feel of the show. 

Family Activities

We invite you to share a giggle, try some new moves and deepen your understanding of the performing arts with our Public Engagement Activites, Arts Express, TXT Marks the Spot and Talk-Backs! 
Twitter   How did your drawing turn out?
Share a photo of it with us on Instagram or Twitter, #ElephantandPiggie.
Facebook   What was it like to try out different actions?
Like us on Facebook and tell us what you think!
Posted by Beth Henderson
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