Young Ben Franklin Arthur Dirks
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Young Ben Franklin's Fight For Freedom

Produced: April, 1976
Wayne State College Theater
Director: Hellen Russell
Scenery: Arthur Dirks
Facility: Ramsey Auditorium


The play is an intrigue around Benjamin Franklin when he was a boy. It was the end of my first year as a designer. The details are pretty fuzzy after 30 years, but it must have been in Philadelphia. It involved printing some treatise about freedom, attacks by royalists, stupid British soldiers, a young girl who helped him, a benevolent pirate captain with a talking parrot, and a kite. The setting was a print shop on the wharf. I can't attribute the author on this.

The challenges included researching and building something that acted like a period printing press, complete with compositors bench, which got wrecked every peformance. We created a large parrot and struggled to get it to stay on the actor's shoulder, while another actor behind the fence voiced the bird. We also flew a kite out over the audience using monofilament from the lighting slot. I designed costumes for this as well, and my learning curve included how to enlarge and adapt patterns from authentic period pattern books.

This view is from the lighting slot under worklights. The audience sat only in orchestra level.

Young Ben setting

All original content © 2007 copyright Arthur L. Dirks