HAMMOND — Tori Andrews moved with other performers in a line that slithered like a snake.
The 9-year-old was practicing the dragon dance — one of two she will perform during The Octavian Foundation for the Arts’ production of “The Empty Pot,” a play written and directed by Anna Pfeil. The play is based on a Chinese folk tale about honesty.
The play is “based on a Chinese folktale I found when my children were little,” Pfeil said. “I’ve had the story rolling around in my head for 20 years.”
Pfeil, who had initially picked up the book at her local library, said she used to read it to her children. The story teaches youths “honesty, sticking to your morals, and not giving into what everyone else is doing.”
As she talked about the tale, Pfeil said the story is about an emperor who doesn’t have an heir to his throne so he agrees to choose an heir from the people, Pfeil said.
He gives them seeds and whoever grows the best plant, will become the next emperor, Pfeil said.
“It’s a cute little story,” Pfeil continued, adding that she and the choreographers have added movement to the play with the dances.
Last week, the cast of more than 30 performers from Livingston and Tangipahoa Parishes were plugging along preparing for Friday’s opening night, which will feature a “red carpet” dinner and a silent auction.
Cade Garafola, 8, of Holy Ghost School in Hammond, was busy June 15 memorizing 80 lines for the performance.
“He has an excellent memory,” Pfeil said, as Cade took a short break from rehearsal.
“I studied at home a few times, and had a friend help,” Cade said.
“I like the costumes,” Cade continued, as he described what he likes most about the “The Empty Pot.”
This weekends’ performance is the 11th Octavian production, and will close the theater company’s fourth season, Pfeil said. The show will run June 24 to June 26. Show times are at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday.
While The Octavians first began in 2007, Caleb McKay, 12, is new to the theater scene and will make his debut Friday night.
For Caleb, the most interesting part of acting is that performers can “be what you want to be,” he said.
Gabe Anderson, 13, is also new to The Octavians but already said he loves it.
“I like being able to pretend I’m someone else and get away with it,” Gabe said.
Unlike Caleb and Gabe, Ashlie Burke, 13, who attends Ponchatoula Junior High School, started acting with The Octavians in 2007.
“We get to get all of the energy out,” Ashlie said.
Since joining The Octavians, Ashlie said that she’s “learned a lot about drama, the theater and the stage since I’ve been here.”
For 17-year-old Devon Andrews, the play also gives the performers a chance to be with their friends.
“I also like the music,” he said. “I often dance backstage.”
Tickets are $10 for adults, $6 for students and $3 children 10 and under.
Friday night’s performance will include the annual Red Carpet Dinner Theater and Silent Auction, Pfeil said.
Dinner will be provided by Trey Yuen Cuisine of China and auction items include gifts from Safari Quest, Coach House gifts, Cocoa Bean, Buddy’s Grill, George Ibert Jewelers, Discovery Children’s Museum, Jellystone Park, Lowe’s and more.
The theater is located at 409 W. Dakota St., Hammond.
On the Internet: http://www.theoctavians.com