Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Theatre for the Kids

In some ways, teaching and acting are one in the same: you get into character, learn your script, and perform, sometimes to an appreciative crowd, sometimes not. It's precisely for that reason that I thought I could never love teaching and, now, that I do.

Don't get me wrong. Acting, as in the real art of acting, is not in my blood. But, I do love going to the theatre. Bill and I have had season tickets at the St. Louis Rep for almost 10 years now. At least once a season, we'll see something at the Fox or the Stray Dog Theatre or the Muny too. While we mostly see productions intended for older audiences, we started attending children's theatre and kid-friendly productions too when Wee Willa was about 18 months old. In case you're wondering, Willa's first show was The Wizard of Oz.

Last year, we bought season tickets for the Piwacket Theatre for Children which performs at the Black Cat Theatre in Maplewood. Piwacket is professional theatre that is informal and family-friendly. Each Piwacket production brings to life a classic, yet popular tale that everyone remembers from childhood (with a strong character education make-over). You and your kids will both give Piwacket a thumbs up because fidgeting, walking around, talking, and bathroom breaks during the production are not just acceptable, they're the norm.

If polished is more your style, then I would recommend the Imaginary Theatre Company. The Imaginary is the Rep's traveling theatre company for kids and they come home to perform a few times during the year. Like Piwacket, the Imaginary brings to life classic children's tales using simple sets, a few props, and great acting. Unlike Piwacket, the Imaginary's story selections, adaptations, and productions are a bit more sophisicated (think Robin Hood rather than Jack and the Bean Stalk). And, unlike Piwacket, the productions are not interactive, you have to sit in a real theatre seat, and talking, coughing, bathroom breaks, and the like are discouraged. But, did I mention that it's more polished? Previously, we've seen The Velveteen Rabbit and The Ant and the Grasshopper. Yesterday, we saw The Little Fir Tree. In addition to the polish, the Imaginary offers an opportunity to create art and crafts before the show and a chance to meet the actors/characters for photo ops and autographs afterward.

The only company that we haven't had a chance to see yet is the Metro Theatre Company but we've heard great things about them. In fact, I think that a wife of colleague of mine is an actor with this company. Any others that I've omitted?

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