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Home » News » A Note from the Dramaturg: The Cat in the Hat

A Note from the Dramaturg: The Cat in the Hat

Published November 6, 2017

By Marisa M. Andrews

You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax. All you need is a book!

This year The Cat in the Hat turns 60 years old. It was first published as a book back in 1957 by Dr. Seuss, and today you’ll get to see that story reimagined live, onstage here at Florida State University! We are so excited to have you here.

Do you know how the story of The Cat in the Hat came about? Dr. Seuss’s friend, William Spaulding, gave him a list of 368 words that he thought every kid should know how to read and told Dr. Seuss that he was only allowed to write a story using these specific words (no “Grickly Gractus” in this tale!). Mr. Spaulding wanted a new book on the market that was fun, exciting, and encouraged early literacy. In the United States in the 1950s, a lot of young children had a difficult time learning to read. It took him over a year, but finally Dr. Seuss finished The Cat in the Hat – illustrations and all. And it’s been a hit with audiences of all ages ever since. The Cat is maybe Dr. Seuss’s most popular character from all of his books. What is your favorite character?

Dr. Seuss was born on March 2, 1904, under the name Theodor Seuss Geisel. His family called him Ted. He didn’t start calling himself Dr. Seuss until he was a student at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, when he started drawing cartoons for his school newspaper and needed a nickname. “Seuss” was originally supposed to be pronounced like Zoice (“voice” with a ‘z’), but once people started pronouncing it Soose (“goose” with an ‘s’), it stuck. In addition to The Cat in the Hat, Dr. Seuss wrote over 40 other children’s books during his lifetime. How many of his books have you read?

One special element that you’ll see in this production is the use of puppets. Puppetry has been a part of theatre since ancient times and comes in many forms. Our production uses its own unique type of puppetry, developed from a type of puppetry called Czech Black Puppetry. The puppets are mounted onto sticks, and the puppeteers try to hide in the shadows of the stage as much as possible. Puppeteers (puppet-holders) are dressed all in black so that you will focus on the puppets themselves, and hopefully forget that there are people holding them. If you are really interested in puppets, think about taking a visit to the Center for Puppetry Arts – it’s quite close to us, in Atlanta, Georgia.

Want to learn more? Download the FSU School of Theater app to discover more about The Cat in the Hat!

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Marisa M. Andrews (Dramaturg) is a second year MA Theatre Studies candidate. She holds a BA in Drama (Stage Management) with a minor in Art History from Ithaca College. Her research interests include the performance of contemporary death rituals, the work of Djuna Barnes, 19th/20th century Russian drama, and theatre historiography.