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Janusz Korczak Association of the USA
May 2020
Dear Korczakians,
Enclosed is a letter from Brian Hull, member of Korczak USA, who delighted us with his Kaytek the Wizard puppet show in Seattle, Washington, in 2018.

Here is the trailer from that show:
Kaytek with his grandmother.
And one of the beautiful songs from the show, very appropriate for our times, written by Brian Hull and Sarah Hart, The World Is Strange and Mysterious (audio link).

Brian is embarking on another Korczak project—King Matt the First—and needs help with one part of the book. Please read Brian’s letter and let us know your views. If there is a group that would like to discuss it via Zoom or conference call, we will be happy to set it up. We look forward to having another Korczak book performed around the world by the members of BriAnimations Living Entertainment.
With wishes of peace and good health to all of you,
Mariola Strahlberg for Korczak USA
Dear Friends in Korczak,
My name is Brian Hull, I am a writer/director and producer/performer. A few years ago I adapted Korczak's Kaytek the Wizard into a puppet show, and have performed the show around the US—at Performing Arts Centers, theaters, and festivals in Tennessee, California, Maine, Minneapolis, Ohio, Idaho, and more. Two years ago we performed the show in Seattle, Washington for the Korczak’s International Conference and received a special honor. It has become a mission of ours to take the story to as many children as possible and spread the word about Korczak.
I am interested in adapting Korczak's King Matt the First into a puppet play, so that we could offer both of his children's books—but I have run into a point of concern. An important element of the story is that King Matt visits Africa and the King of the Cannibals. They become good friends and heroically come to his aid in the giant battle at the end of the book. Although readers learn from King Matt that cannibalism is to be rejected, there still remains the issue of stereotypes. I have gone over and over with others on this—even had a long discussion with librarians on how to handle this, but they ended up perplexed with no good answers for me. In some editions of the book there are comments by others voicing their concern in addressing this issue when reading aloud to children. Still, it is a great book.
There has been the suggestion of re-creating the characters as animals—similar to what Disney did with Robin Hood. King Matt could be a mouse over a kingdom of mice and instead of cannibals, those characters would be cats/lions. The other countries would be animals as well—dogs, chickens... My son even offered that it could be called King Ratt the First. This idea has been explored before, in Art Spiegelman's pulitzer-prize winning Maus, but with more serious material. I have seen puppet plays do this effectively, such as Jack and the Beanstalk, where Jack is a mouse and the giant is a cat. But I feel the most important thing would be finding a way to be true to the work and the words of Korczak.
Because of the temporary shutdown of live performances due to Coronavirus, I have time to build and illustrate. Perhaps adapt/illustrate the book first, and develop the puppet play from the book. As well as being a puppeteer, I am also an animator/illustrator.
Anyhow—thank you for any thoughts you may have on this. Again, my goal is to promote Korczak, and our Kaytek the Wizard has been effective—so I want to keep going.
Brian Hull
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