Topher Fixed It- Finding Positive Actions in Troubling Times

Playwright Reimagines Classic Childrens’ Stories

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Haven’t you read a famous, “classic,” childrens’ story and/or film and thought…that story just doesn’t feel right? Apparently, Atlanta playwright Topher Payne, thought so, too. Although Topher started his project during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, I heard his interview on Atlanta’s WABE 90.1 show City Lights, on May 25, 2022, after two grueling weeks of horrible tragedies in the United States: the racially motivated mass shooting in a Buffalo grocery store on May 14, 2022 and the mass shooting of children and their teachers at an elementary school in Texas on May 24, 2022. My heart was heavy. I wished I could change things, but knew that I could not.

Topher felt the same way about the COVID-19 pandemic. So he did the only thing that he had control over — he started writing. He was inspired by the Atlanta Artists Relief Fund that had started doing a story time hour, reading childrens’ books — the best way that these actors could reach an audience during a time of pandemic. The only problem was, as Payne read some classic childrens’ stories, he realized that they did not resonate with him. Perhaps they never did. So, he decided to change the the endings.

The result is Payne’s and illustrator Charlie Cote’s parody alternate endings of the Giving Tree, The Tree Who Set Healthy Boundaries , I love you forever and will call before I come over , The Fish Who Isn’t Pouting, that’s Just His Face, and The Rainbow Fish Keeps His Scales.

This weekend, take a trip into fantasy-land and re-imagine the endings to problematic stories. You’ll be glad you did.

Social Media Harms will be back next week. Take care.

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