Comedy. By Sandra Fenichel Asher. Developed from the poetry of Sandy Asher and David L. Harrison.
Cast: 1m., 1w., 2 either gender, plus puppets; may be expanded to a total of 21 m. and w. without puppets. Commissioned by Pollyanna Theatre Company, Austin, Texas; a winner of the American Alliance for Theatre and Education's Unpublished Play Award; and a Purple Crayon Players' PLAYground Festival selection, Jesse and Grace uses art, music, puppets and poetry in unique ways to create a child's world that's entertaining, convincing and tourable. Jesse and Grace have been best friends since birth, almost 10 years. Their moms were best friends before they were born. It never mattered that Jesse is a boy and Grace is a girl. They always understood each other, protected each other, comforted each other, and shared their jokes, toys, dreams, and love of poetry and basketball. But now they're in fourth grade and about to celebrate their 10th birthdays. When Grace writes a birthday poem and gives it to Jesse one Monday morning at school, their classmates begin a routine of nonstop teasing: "Jesse's got a girlfriend! Gracie's got a boyfriend!" Denial only makes things worse. Hurt and confused, Jesse crumples up the poem and throws it away. Now it's Grace's turn to be hurt and confused. Before long, the two have stopped speaking to each other. Each goes in search of a new best friend and soon finds that no one else fills the bill quite as perfectly. Try as they might to avoid each other, they're in the same class, and all eyes are upon them. Every encounter breeds more teasing, humiliation and anger. Then everyone is invited to a skating party in celebration of Grace's birthday. Unable to avoid each other—or the teasing—at the rink, and secretly longing to forgive and forget, Jesse and Grace finally discover that "A best friend is the best kind of friend of all." Pollyanna Theatre Company's Jesse and Grace was nominated for B. Iden Payne awards for Best Youth Theatre Production and Best Actress in a Youth Theatre Production. Area staging. Approximate running time: 45 minutes.