Dallas Children's Theater Blog

Astonishing Kids And Families With The Fun of Broadway-Like Plays and A Lot More!

Racism is History…isn’t it?

On January 19 of this year, there was an interview on NPR with Dr. James Douglas, President of the Houston, TX branch of the NAACP.  The interviewer asked him if people have forgotten about the gains made by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  His response was fascinating to me.  He used the analogy of taking antibiotics to get rid of an infection.  The symptoms may disappear, but not the infection.

I don’t know how to talk to my kids about racism and racial justice.  My hope is that they’re growing up in a different time, so they will just naturally not be racist.  Having grown up in Atlanta, GA, my family, just one generation removed from my children still speak with passive-aggressive prejudice (“I’m not racist, but…”) My rationale is, I’m not going to be like that, so it will be easier for my kids not to be racist.

Dr. Douglas would say we might need to work a little harder. His solution is not a stronger antibiotic; it is to keep taking it until the infection is gone.  That requires action. Our awareness, as parents, that the Civil Rights Movement happened, is not enough to teach racial justice to our kids.  We have to talk about it.

We have to talk about it?  Is that what Starbucks was trying to do with their #Race Together campaign?  Did that work?  Honest conversations with strangers as they brew my cinnamon dolce latte? I will say in some ways it’s easier to talk to strangers about those big issues.  I’m not responsible for their character, or their actions.  My kids, on the other hand, now there is where I should be considering the importance of a conversation.

My son was seven when JACKIE & ME was playing at Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis, where I used to work.  I didn’t take him to see it, even though we would’ve gotten complimentary tickets.  It wasn’t just because he was two years younger than the age  recommendation. I was afraid he would be bored. He’s not into baseball, and as a white kid (red hair, blue eyes, about as white as you can get) it wouldn’t be relevant to him.  And, if I’m being honest, he’s very sensitive and inquisitive, and I didn’t want to talk to my seven-year-old about why Jackie Robinson wasn’t allowed to play baseball.

We don’t want to bring our kids down, right?  We trust that they’re absorbing it.  Photos of groups of kids almost always include many ethnicities.  Their school has several Latino and African American students, and the Disney channel has lots of public service announcements about treating kids fairly.  Shouldn’t that be enough?

When we are around family, we like to show off how comfortable we are with my son’s African American best friend, or our neighbor who has two moms, but then around our kids, I find myself avoiding it.  My tactic is to act like the qualities that make them different aren’t there.  It’s safest to stay ultra-generic.  When asked why G down the street has two moms, it’s easiest to say “you know, all families are different.” When I’m asking about someone at school, I find myself describing him saying, “that boy, he’s a little shorter than you, he was wearing a blue shirt today, his hair is curly…” then my son easily offers, “is his skin brown?” It’s such a relief, I don’t have to admit to noticing that his skin is brown.

Pardon my French, but WHAT?!!!

Here’s the thing about JACKIE & ME. I now realize this is going to be the easiest, least awkward way for me to share with my now-nine-year-old that racism is a real thing, and I hope it upsets his sensitive spirit a little.  The world is different than it was in 1947, a few years after his grandparents were born, but there are still times when a boy with brown skin is going to have to work harder just to be treated fairly.

As far as my other concern, that he would be bored?  JACKIE & ME is not a history lesson.  It’s a magical time travel play, for heaven’s sake!  There’s a reason why the Dan Gutman book series is so popular whether you like baseball or not. Joey Stoshak (the titular “ME”) is a very relatable kid, who is dealing with real kid grief in the present and the past.  He has a Nintendo DS just like my son, and we can talk about how that must’ve looked to a kid in 1947.  Then we can talk about why Jackie Robinson wasn’t allowed to play baseball. And we keep taking the antibiotics until the infection goes away.

JACKIE & ME runs through May 17. This play has been delicately sculpted in the hands of DFW’s most talented professional theater artists just for you and your family. Please don’t miss it.

To listen to the complete interview with Dr. James Douglas, click here. 

 

The New Season is upon us – Come along on the Magnificent Journey!

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Everything is special when you’re on a trip – the food you eat, the bed you sleep in; you wear your favorite outfits, and each moment is photo-worthy because you will want to re-live the experience over and over again.  The journey holds a special place in your memory, from the anticipation to the time you spend traveling together to the moment you finally arrive at your destination.

DCT has crafted a season that has all of this – anticipation, time together, and epic performances that will live in the collective memory of your family forever. Take your family by the hand and start planning your journey today.  Here’s what you can anticipate:

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FANCY NANCY: THE MUSICAL reminds us to be happy for our friends and stay true to ourselves – complete with a Mermaid Ballet and scene-stealing dancing shark!

 

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THE GHOST OF SLEEPY HOLLOW brings the fantastically frightening tales of Washington Irving to the Studio Theater for big kids and teens!

 

 

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MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET is back by popular demand as families found Santa alive and well on the DCT stage.

 

 

 

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Kathy Burks Theatre of Puppetry Arts’ production of NOT A CREATURE WAS STIRRING is a harrowing journey of a mouse family’s struggle to decorate for the holidays that will make you want to snuggle up with your family.

 

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Lone Star Circus will bring in the New Year with their joyous Gypsy extravaganza ZINGARI!

 

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A YEAR WITH FROG AND TOAD is a bog-side musical journey that weathers all the seasons with two irresistible best friends.

 

 

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TEEN SCENE PLAYERS present dont u luv me? which thoughtfully illustrates how small choices can quickly escalate into aggression. It is an important journey that may change a life. This one is for older teens and the adults that love them.

 

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Kathy Burks brings her enchanting (and less “grim”) adaptation of HANSEL AND GRETEL which shows how everyday kids can be heroes when they work together.

 

 

275x275_tulaneTHE MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF EDWARD TULANE is the play you haven’t heard of, but the one that you’ll be talking about all year.  This play is the must-see attraction on this amazing journey. On his pilgrimage to find his owner, the beautiful toy rabbit Edward finds that his breakable heart can learn to love, lose, and love again.

 

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THE BFG (Big Friendly Giant) is Roald Dahl’s unforgettable odyssey of two tender-hearted misfits who are on a quest to save England from “gizzard-gulpers.”

 

 

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Finally, PINKALICIOUS, THE MUSICAL brings the most beloved book to the stage with glee-ful energy showing all kids how to find their true colors.

 

 

That’s right!  Start packing for a year-long journey with music, dancing, miracles, puppet magic and life lessons that will leave you and your family with so many invigorating conversations and lifelong memories.  Trust us, the anticipation is not the best part of this family trip.  I can’t wait for the 2015-2016 season, and it won’t be the same without you!

Karl Schaeffer’s Place to Play

 

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Karl Schaeffer and mother Barbara Schaeffer

Every mom wants to create a place for her kids to play safely, and explore the worlds that exist only in their minds.  Karl Schaeffer’s mother Barbara is no different, and now that her son is grown up, she is still making sure he has a creative space for play.

IMG_3351 (2)Barbara Schaeffer knew her son Karl was destined to be an actor when he was in junior high.  He was always talented, determined, and full of ingenuity.  It’s no wonder he has made his professional artistic home at DCT, which has proven to be the perfect incubator for his unique creative mind to flourish, allowing Karl to create some of DCT’s most memorable performances.  His mother couldn’t be more proud.

Barbara Schaeffer explains, My husband and I have always been very proud of him and his accomplishments.  When Karl said he was going to college to major in theater, my husband with his European background said, ‘How is he going to make a living? As an actor?’ Well he has, and he’s done it very well.”

As a DCT teaching artist, Karl has created a video production program, works with Eagle Scouts, and takes his talent out into the schools to work with kids allDCT  student performance at Notre Dame School 3/3/2011 over Dallas.  He always puts his work with children above all of the accolades he has received as an actor. Barbara recalls, “He loves to tell me about when he works with the making movies class or when he works with the young people.  That’s what he really enjoys.  And of course, he really enjoys after the show when he goes out and interacts and meets with the kids; he really values that.”

To honor her son and his thirty years as a company member at Dallas Children’s Theater and the first employee, Barbara has made a generous donation to create a permanent memorial for future generations.  The Karl Schaeffer Office of Creativity now reminds everyone of the mark Karl has made at Dallas Children’s Theater. It is the perfect way to celebrate his lifelong place to play.

Barbara constantly praises Karl’s determination and claims that while she and Karl’s father provided him with materials and drove him to the places he needed to go while he was growing up, she is certain that Karl achieved his success on his own. When she sees Karl perform, however, she is immediately transported back to his childhood.  Barbara smiles as she says, “I just see the little kid that he always was, clowning around, acting silly, and just doing and loving what he does.”

Karl’s one man performance in BALLOONACY is an example of what he does best.  It is Karl and his co-star, a tenacious red balloon that insists on becoming his friend.  It is directed by Dick Monday and features physical comedy, no spoken words and a tender spirit.  It was created for squirmy toddlers who love to play, but is also perfect for the young at heart who might need a friendly reminder of how to play.

Barbara, like every proud mom, also shared some family photos with us:

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That’s Karl. He’s got a little hat on and of course his pacifier and that’s the first car we owned. it was a Opel Rekord that we brought to the states when we came from Germany. He’s sitting in the parking lot of the commissary doing his first driving lesson.

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That dapper dude…my husband was in the hospital. This was on Father’s Day when we went to the hospital to visit his dad.  He got all dressed up in his little suit and off we went to the hospital.

 

 

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This is one of my favorite pictures, that was taken when he was in Kindergarten.  Five years old.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Balloonacy and Dick Monday: Bringing out the clown in all of us

I had the pleasure of seeing the world premiere of BALLOONACY at Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis with Robert Dorfman who had started his career as a clown with the Ringling Brothers.  So when I heard that Dick DCT_344Monday, one half of the renowned clown team Slappy and Monday, was going to be directing DCT’s production of BALLOONACY, it made so much sense.

BALLOONACY is a special play.  Tender, hilarious, and while it was specifically created for squirmy toddlers, there is something in it for everyone.  It’s for everyone who has had and lost a friend, everyone who had a disappointing birthday party, everyone who has felt lonely, and everyone who loves to play or has forgotten how to play.  Dick Monday visited with us about BALLOONACY, and I think his thoughts speak for themselves.  Here’s what Dick had to say:

“Saying that clowning and physical comedy is just for kids is like saying that adults don’t know how to play. They try to act mature and logical until they get sucked into the wonderfully ridiculous world of the theater. We all yearn to play. The problem is giving yourself permission to drop your armor and dive in. Kids don’t seem to have that problem. Adults often do. ‘I can’t take the chance of looking silly. What would people think?’ Can you imagine a kid saying that? Physical comedy is for everyone. It is storytelling for everyone, using the face and body, the heart and soul, with no words to get in the way.

Physical Comedy is a Universal Language

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Dick Monday interacting with kids at a DCT performance.

BALLOONACY is a story that is told without words. When film emerged over a century ago, there were no words spoken. They were silent films. They told stories by using pictures, moving pictures. Then there was radio, and we listened to stories with no pictures whatsoever. Now we are very used to having both words and pictures. The broad comedy of clowning breaks down the story as simply as possible and lets the character shine bright as he does his intricate dance of action, emotion and surprise.

It Takes Two 

All comedy has one thing in common, and that is truth. BALLOONACY features a man who has gotten out of the habit of playing because there hasn’t been anyone around to play with. We have all felt the emptiness of being by ourselves. But when you do it for a while, it becomes the world you are used to. So when the chance to play comes along, you may not be ready. Luckily, in our story, the friend that comes into our character’s life will not take no for an answer.

Through this persistence, our Man discovers the joy one can have when relating to another. And the truth is, even a balloon can be a friend.

Youre Never too Old to Play – Seriously! 

DCT_254In our story, a man interacts with a balloon and discovers how to play again which brings him great joy and ultimately friendship. Age is certainly relative. I’ve encountered young people who had difficulty playing and old people who could jump into the fun in an instant. Anyone can play, and age is by no means the common denominator. The willingness to interact seems to me to be the key issue. The man in our story fights against interacting at first, not because he is old, but because he is set in his ways and doesn’t want to interact. There is an honest discovery in the fun that can be had through interacting with a friend and I know this can happen to anyone at any time in their lives.

Hey, Grownups, Its Okay to Laugh 

I’ve been performing for family audiences as a clown for forty years, and I’m always surprised when an adult comes up to me after a show and says, “I think I liked it as much as my kids”.  I’m not surprised that they enjoyed the show as much as their kids, I’m surprised that they thought they wouldn’t. I think we decide at some moment in our life that certain things are for kids. Things like: ice cream, cookies, riding bikes, amusement parks, swimming holes, sand castles, circuses, clowns, a balloon. As an adult, I still love all these things and I see no reason why anyone else wouldn’t feel the same way.”

Dick Monday will be directing DCT’s own physical comedy genius, Karl Schaeffer in BALLOONACY. In addition to the performance, families will be invited to join in age-appropriate activities accompanied by a DCT teaching artist that will exercise your imagination, your body, and your powers of observation.  It’s going to be unlike any play you’ve ever been to, and is going to be the perfect first exposure to live theater, or a great reminder of why we call it a “play.”

Get tickets to Balloonacy

Remember, this is a limited engagement with limited seating, so act fast!

PERFORMANCE DATES AND TIMES:

Friday – Apr 10 – 7:30 pm
Saturdays – Apr 11, 18, – 1:30 pm & 4:30 pm
Sunday – Apr 19 – 1:30 pm & 4:30 pm
Sunday – Apr 12 – 1:30 pm
Sunday – Apr 12 – 4:30 pm

 

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Dick Monday

Dick Monday – Director of Balloonacy

Dick was the Director of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College from 1994-1997. During this time, he created and directed all the clowning for the Greatest Show on Earth. Dick is one of the featured clowns with Lone Star Circus and serves as that show’s Director of Clowning. Dick was recently one of the subjects of the acclaimed book, Guiding Lights, about great mentors and teachers. Dick and his partner Tiffany founded the New York Goofs in 1998, a theatrical clown troupe that has produced four off-off Broadway shows and been featured in every major festival in the NY/ DC area. In 2004, Dick created Slappy’s Playhouse in Dallas, TX, writing and producing all kinds of family entertainment.

Special thanks to Dick for sharing his thoughts with us.  To learn more about Slappy and Monday’s services, go here.

The most inspirational family you will ever meet

The story of Ryan Goldblatt has really touched me. Ryan passed away from a rare brain tumor just shy of his fourth birthday, and his family has established 7.6.08 RJG fthe Ryan Goldblatt Foundation in his memory to help other families just like theirs. The foundation was established to give back to all the organizations that helped Ryan’s family during his illness, including Dallas Children’s Theater, and DCT is proud to work with them and Children’s Health Center to provide live theater to brave kids and their families.

When you’re a parent, you hear all about how important fun and play is, and how it’s essential if you want your kids to hit all the developmental milestones, and how basically playing is your kid’s job. Joanne and Andy Goldblatt, Ryan’s parents, helped me to understand that when you have a child who is critically ill in the hospital, often you can’t think past the next moment, and the idea of taking your kid out just to have fun doesn’t necessarily cross your mind.  But then when time is something that no longer feels like a sure thing, fun suddenly becomes more important.

Andy explains, “It’s one of those things, when we were in the hospital, you don’t think about doing things, you’re all concerned with your kid’s health and the procedures and learning all the jargon, and then when you’re at home, you’re so exhausted you don’t really have any energy to do anything else. Even though there were some times that were not fun, you know, we just made sure we had as much fun as possible.”

Ryan loved pirates, so when DCT was producing HOW I BECAME A PIRATE, a friend of the family told Joanne that Ryan had to see it.  Joanne knew Ryan had always loved the book and his response to the experience was so satisfying.  “I was a little nervous,” she says, “He didn’t get out a lot, but he came home just bouncing off the walls.  He had so much fun, he loved it! He loved the characters that went with the book.”

After Ryan’s unforgettable experience, we just knew. Kids just love to be here, and we thought, you know there are so many kids in the hospital who just aren’t able to come. There’s just so much that goes on in a cancer family’s world, where they’re just thinking about chemo and when’s the next radiation. If this is something we can do to put their mind off of that, just for an hour, for two hours, and really let them enjoy this experience then it’s completely worth it.”

DSCN1666Davinique Roberson and her family recently attended a production of SKIPPYJON JONES with tickets they received through the RGF, and she couldn’t have been more excited. Davinique, like Ryan, has a brain tumor and is at Children’s Health every other week for chemotherapy. Her mother Quatia explains, “I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity for my kids to get some kind of culture in their lives, and to get a break from the pressure and the stress we have every other day.

In addition to offering families tickets to come to DCT, the RGF has also decided to underwrite several promotional appearances by Dallas Children’s DSCN1635Theater this year. Joanne Goldblatt recalls, “Dallas Children’s Theater recently brought some actors from SKIPPYJON JONES to meet the kids at Children’s Health and to promote the show’s run to the greater Children’s Health audience. It was an amazing success! The kids loved it! Some of the oncology kids got to come down during filming and watch the actors.” All of the kids in the hospital could tune their TVs to the hospital network and watch the characters in their rooms live as well and it appeared that doctors and other employees equally enjoyed the chance to learn about the DCT treasure that is right in their backyard.”

There are so many things that you just can’t understand until you’ve lived through it, and hearing these families share their experiences, there are so many common struggles.  These are not unlike what all parents deal with in that they have to balance the most immediate needs of their kids with what their kids want and will enjoy.  But for these families, the entire family, including the siblings, grandparents, and the young patients themselves, the weight of the stress is heavy.  DCT, with the help of the Ryan Goldblatt Foundation, is working hard to lighten the load just a little.

Joanne Goldblatt concluded, “We couldn’t be more proud. To see the smiles and hear the laughter from these beautiful kids who are fighting for their lives is truly such a gift. These are the bravest most courageous kids you’ll ever know.”

When he was asked what Ryan would think of the Goldblatt Foundation program, his father Andy was certain.  He says, “You know, these parents aren’t going to come to the theater on their own. They need someone to stick tickets in their hand and push them out the door and say “Go!” Do this, have an afternoon of fun.” I think he would be thrilled because I know we had a lot of fun doing it.”

There is nothing that comes close to seeing your kids happy.  When you find that thing that makes them smile and forget the things that are troubling them, even momentarily, you can’t put a price on it. Parents have a special appreciation for how quickly time goes by, and hearing Joanne and Andy Goldblatt talk about their son, Ryan, is the greatest reminder to treasure every second. Ryan’s little sister, Emily, never met her big brother, but when she saw his picture in the program for THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT she said, “That’s Ryan!”  His memory is precious and is undoubtedly living on through his family, and now through countless other children who owe at least one fun experience to this new friend they’ll never meet.

For more information on the Ryan Goldblatt Foundation, visit http://www.theryangoldblattfoundation.org. 

Adrian Churchill talks about being a man among bunnies

KA1_8440THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT has been a hit among families, and Adrian Churchill plays the part of Mr. McGregor with “comic verve” according to The Dallas Morning News. Adrian has been working very hard to keep Peter away from singing vegetables, and we were able to visit him briefly about his co-stars.

SW: When we watch PETER RABBIT, it seems that you are all interacting so naturally. Adrian, what is it like being the only human on stage?

AC: I love being the only human on stage with these puppets. It feels like I’m living in my own childhood’s imagination. Peter Rabbit is a very real foe and gives me quite a workout. The main thing to remember as a performer is to treat the puppet as a fellow actor on stage. Always address the puppet, not the puppeteer.

SW: Is this your first time co-starring with a puppet?

AC: I have been onstage with puppets before (in a production of PINOCCHIO) however that show had other humans in it.

SW: We have all experienced the magic of Kathy Burks Theatre of Puppetry Arts from the audience. Can you talk about the magic of the puppetry from your perspective?

AC: What I find magical is watching the show from backstage. The sheer traffic madness is amazing to see and the commitment of each puppeteer to their own character is fantastic. What a great group of theater artists they all are.

Peter Rabbit for DMNSW: We know the role is physically for the puppeteers backstage. What physical requirements for this role have been very unique for you compared to other roles?

AC: This has been a very demanding show for me physically. I’m a big round guy and I run and run and run after that rabbit only to be interrupted by two (out of breath) songs that I sing.

SW: What is one of your favorite things about the show?

AC: I must say that B. Wolf’s little operetta score to this show is just so wonderful! It has a depth to it both musically and lyrically that you just don’t see much of these days. It is both detailed and full.

Adrian, Peter and Peter’s rabbit family will be romping through the garden through April 5. On Easter Weekend, the Easter Bunny will be on hand to greet families and grant each child their own candy-filled egg. We hope you’ll make plans to come see the entire cast soon!

The Perils of Puppetry and why kids don’t listen to their mothers

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I got to walk in on a rehearsal for PETER RABBIT yesterday and it was absolutely breathtaking.  The stage was completely full and Mr. McGregor’s garden was massive and  so beautiful.  Peter was talking about temptation and how hard it is to be good.

I can appreciate the lure and the power of temptation that Peter experiences, but his mom is just trying to keep him safe; something all moms seek to do.  In KA1_8283this case, Peter’s mom isn’t worried about skinned knees or even broken bones, she is worried that he will get picked up by the farmer and baked into a pie.  She’s not being paranoid or overprotective either, she’s worried because that’s exactly what happened to Peter’s father!  Fact: if you are caught by the farmer, you will be eaten.

So remind me, Peter, why it’s so hard.  Is that cabbage or carrot or whatever really going to be worth the risk to your cute little furry self?  Apparently, it is.

So far, I have not been able to lure my kids away from an activity by telling them they’ll be baked into a pie, but still, somehow my telling them not to do something makes it all the more appealing.  I think the same is true with Peter.  If mom says not to do it, it MUST be good, because obviously mom doesn’t want me to have any fun, ever!

I can’t wait to bring my kids to see THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT. Not only am I hoping they’ll learn something about listening to their parents, but I just know they are going to love the show.  But the mom part of me that worries will just be thinking of my friend Trish backstage, and all the Cirque de Soleil-type acrobatics they’re having to do backstage to make Peter and his family come to life onstage.

KA1_8364This version of PETER RABBIT employs multiple puppet forms with a relatively small team of puppeteers juggling materials and characters backstage. My friend, Master Puppeteer Trish Long explains, “Of all the Kathy Burks shows I have participated in, this is by far the biggest. The challenge for me is that depending on what puppet stage we are on, I do a different character each time. So going from one personality to another in a fast- paced atmosphere can be challenging. Running up and down the bridge of the marionette stage is quite a workout as well. When I change from doing the black theater with hood and gloves, and then run up to the bridge I have to always make a mental note of where I left those items, so that they are in the same place when I switch back and have to use them again.”

You’re doing what?  Running? In the dark? Going up ladders with gloves? Running up ladders in the dark with a hood over your head?  No, Trish, NO! I’ve told her several times that I’m going to call her mom and tattle on her, but I guess she’s a grown up and a “Master Puppeteer” so I have to assume she knows what she’s doing.


Careers my children are not allowed to pursue:

Shark Dentist
Rodeo Clown
Stunt Pilot
Master Puppeteer

It’s always so hard to balance the need to keep those you love safe and wanting them to experience life at its fullest, take risks, and try something new.  Often dangers aren’t spelled out so clearly as they are in Mr. McGregor’s garden, so we just have to follow our gut sometimes and revel in the beauty when we get to see art with an element of danger carried out effortlessly.  Every parent will be able to relate to Peter’s poor mom with her premature white whiskers.  We’re all just trying our best to be good.

And just so you have the opportunity to appreciate the craziness that you don’t see behind the scenes, check out this video.  Hats off to you Puppeteers!  Be careful out there!

THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT runs from March 13 to April 5.  To purchase tickets call 214-740-0051 or visit dct.org.

Vegetables: The Perfect Cure for Winter Cabin Fever…But Only If They Talk!

store2(Written on March 2, 2014 before the weather bottom really fell out in Dallas.)

I have heard that if you dont like the weather in Texas, just wait two hours and it will be different.   But after spending four and a half hours in the car recently to go ten miles due to the crazy weather conditions, Im starting to think this might just be a saying, and not actually scientific fact.

To be sure, this mom has never been more ready for spring. The FB parent groups were hysterical over the weekend with what do we do with our kids?  Everyone was trapped at home for several days and running out of things to do.  There were lots of great suggestions: homemade play dough, finger painting, baking cookies, but after a few hours, we were feeling desperate again.  My boys invented a game called pillow boxingand I was all for it, but in the end, it was hard work competing with the satisfaction both parent and child feel getting outside!

Its not like fun winter weather, either.  Theres no sledding, no snowballs, and even if the snow had stuck, we dont have those kind of winter clothes here.  Wed have to resort to the ziplock bag over mittens (or vice versa) for them to even be able to touch the snow without getting sick.

Next week is spring break, but I still cant stomach the idea of sending them outside.  The grassis a brown wet bog of mud and straw that will most likely turn to quicksand if they step on it.  11042668_10152731651026732_154716678822933005_n

This year Ive decided to pay no attention to the groundhog. Instead Im going to listen to the rabbit.  Thats Peter Rabbit.  Nothing looks  more like spring now than Mr. McGregors garden.  The vegetables are colorful, vibrant, and they are so happy spring is here, and they will tell you themselves in this most fun version of Beatrix Potters cautionary tale. 

Sometimes when the outdoors isnt cooperating the way we want it to, you have to create the ideal outdoor world inside, and thats what DCT has done with THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT.  So if you dont like the weather in Texas, just wait until March 13 and join us at DCT for some springtime fun with your favorite naughty bunny.   

Not only will we have talking vegetables on March 13s Opening Night, but Urban Acres Farmstead will have some actual organic vegetables for kids to dmn-UrbanAcres-2013-Ben-Torres-freelancehold and information on the process that brought them to life.  I cant wait for my picky eater to actual hold a vegetable in the flesh.  Think of it as a petting zoo for veggies.  Kids may say vegetables arent fun, but theyll definitely change their mind after one night on the farm with Peter Rabbit.  Please join us for the opening or any time during the run.  Shows run through Easter Weekend-April 4 and 5! For more information or to purchase tickets, click here.   

P.S. For pillow boxing to work, they have to use full-size bed pillows with pillow cases.  Couch pillows dont have nearly the same destructive effect, trust me.

Your Teen Brain on Stage…

KA3_1302Teens are people too. Their brains, on the other hand, well to say they’re like the rest of ours, that might be a stretch…

Scientists (and parents) worldwide have been trying to work it out: how can you get your precious children to adulthood without having to traverse the rugged terrain of teen-dom.  But there’s just no way around it.  It has been proven, time and time again that there is one rickety path from twelve to twenty.  So, the more we know, the more we can brace ourselves for the inevitable.KA3_0851

Thank goodness for TEEN BRAIN: THE MUSICAL. Finally, years of scientific research on adolescent brain development has culminated in the universal language of the stage musical. If you or someone you love is a teenager, this show was made just for you.

They say it takes a village to raise a child.  Well, it takes a galaxy to raise a teen.  DCT is fortunate to be surrounded by community experts who advise us on these tough teen subjects.  In addition to having been a teen themselves, they deal with this population virtually every day.  We are also fortunate to have sponsors who not only have knowledge of the subject, but also care enough to support DCT’s efforts to use theater to trigger these important conversations..

“Being a teenager isn’t easy,” says John McFarland from Children’s Health. “The decisions made as a teen can affect the rest of a person’s life. Besides dealing with the physical and emotional challenges of adolescence, teens often face unprecedented social pressures from friends, family, media and society as a whole.”

KA3_0845Did he say the decisions we make as teenagers can affect the rest of a person’s life?  No kidding! I just have two words to say to that: Garfield Tattoo.

Mr. McFarland continues, “A program like DCT’s TEEN BRAIN is a great way to explore the issues that teens and their families face every day. TEEN BRAIN is also a unique way to jumpstart the conversation within the household.”

Talk about issues?  Have conversations? What a good idea.  Where was this show when I was a teenager?  I had to rely on the Bangles to help me navigate my teens.

In addition to Children’s Health, the Hersh Foundation is  one of DCT’s longtime  sponsors of our teen “issue” plays. Julie Hersh, Foundation President and Author of Struck by Living/Decidi Vivir commented, “TEEN BRAIN offers a comfortable setting for teens to watch and discuss the high-charged teen brain, often stoked by hormones, stress and the impact of social media. Seeing Hersh Foundation logorelevant teen issues on stage creates a unique opportunity to proactively protect minds. Most of the time, teens learn about these issues when a problem explodes, under the harsh spotlight of scrutiny for something that went wrong. TEEN BRAIN allows teachers, parents and students to discuss potential problems and strategies before a problem even surfaces. Funny, clever and moving, this show can help us all maintain our mental health.”

So, obviously taking care of teens and their brains is a big deal and a big job, and we can all use some help.  Whether you’re a teacher, a parent, a neighbor, or friend of a teen, this will be an invaluable experience for you.  If you are a teenager, hang in there, friend.  You’ll make it. We hope to see you at the show.

Final weekend of performances coming up! Show must close March 1. Get your tickets HERE.

 

Written by Sherry Ward, DCT pr manager, and an all-too concerned mother about the approaching teen years of her own sons.

 

Crystal Charity Ball Selects DCT as a 2015 Beneficiary!

What would life be like if the buzzing light overhead sounded to you like a roaring lion? What if the lights going dark in the theater made you feel like you were trapped in a cave? What if, when you saw a flashing light, your body went into convulsions that you couldn’t control? What if you were so overwhelmed by these situations that you were afraid of big spaces and crowds? This is life for many of the 100,000+ children in Dallas on the autism spectrum and with other developmental disabilities, and their 100,000+ siblings, and their 100,000+ parents. If you are the parent of a child with developmental disabilities, most likely you prioritize your child’s safety and forego many community events. Unfortunately, you and your family miss out on so much.

BUT… are you ready for some amazing news? The Crystal Charity Ball has granted $564,400 to expand the Sensory-Friendly Performance Initiative atIMG_3309 (2) Dallas Children’s Theater! The generous grant will allow DCT to more than double the number of sensory-friendly performances in 2016, 2017, and 2018. It also will fund classes especially designed for children with developmental disabilities, and provide for the purchase of equipment that will allow better customization of sensory-friendly shows. In 2018-19, DCT will mount a performance with a cast that includes children with developmental disabilities and children who are typically developing. What a rich and stimulating experience it will be for all! Everyone at DCT is deeply grateful to the wonderful women of The Crystal Charity Ball for acknowledging this community need and for the work they will do this year to fund it.

Cara Gravely French, the Crystal Charity member assigned to research DCT’s application, said the Sensory-Friendly Initiative is appealing in many ways.  “DCT is a dream come true for families with developmental disabilities,” she said. “There are not many places these families can go together and feel likeIMG_3317 (2) they fit in, or feel understood. DCT offers a safe, accepting place for children with developmental disabilities and their families to experience a family outing together. Everyone in the family can reap its many benefits! Parents don’t have to worry, and the children grow socially and cognitively,” French said. She stressed that DCT is the only live theater in our community producing sensory- friendly versions of their productions, offering  critical brain stimulation through the movement, emotion, and cooperative learning. “This program is beneficial to both children with developmental disabilities and typically developing children,” French said.

In 2014, DCT began its journey to become an accepting, comfortable, and safe place for children with developmental disabilities. Three terrific plays were adapted so that children with autism and others who need a more relaxed, comforting environment and performance could enjoy live theater. What a joy it has been to be involved as a mother of a son with multiple disabilities, and as a writer. I have learned so much through interacting with the amazing local Clowns Thrill Stuart Little Audience Memberspartners from Autism Speaks; The Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities University of Texas Southwestern and Children’s Health Centers; the Neuropsychology Service of Children’s Health Dallas; and The University of North Texas, including the Kristin Farmer Autism Center, who contributed so much – educating, advising, volunteering, and getting the word out to the families who need this programming. Orlando Repertory Theatre and Nashville Children’s Theatre also contributed to this effort immensely as our national partners. All of these partners deserve a hearty round of applause.

In the pilot year last year, DCT exceeded all of its goals, and families of children with sensory needs resoundingly asked for more opportunities to expose their children to live theater. While the current season also will offer three sensory-friendly performances, Skippyjon Jones, Balloonacy, and The Adventures of Flat Stanley,  the 2016-17 season will offer seven sensory-friendly performances.

Sharron Hunt, Immediate Past President of the DCT Board of Trustees, said of CCB the award, “Crystal Charity members are incredible advocates for children, and Dallas Children’s Theater is a ready and willing ally. This extremely generous grant gives critical support and endorsement to our mission of giving children with developmental disabilities and their families the opportunity for theater arts education. With Crystal Charity’s three-year support, we look forward to sustaining this program for the long term. We are proud to use the power of theater everyday to reach children in ways no other learning mode can. I’ve seen firsthand how it sparks their imagination and their thinking, and no child should be deprived of that experience. On behalf of the entire Board of DCT, I again express how honored and humbled we are to be chosen for this amazing gift.”

CCB Village

Left to right: Sandra Session-Robertson, Nancy Schaeffer, Robyn Flatt, Kory Ballard, Patty Bates-Ballard, Sharron Hunt, Carol March, Karen Travis. Photo: Aaron Rodriguez

The Crystal Charity Ball process is quite rigorous. Being part of the DCT presentation team with my son Kory was a wonderful experience because he and I got to spend time with a group of extremely talented people, all highly motivated to make theater accessible to children like Kory and their families. I am deeply grateful to this group and to all at Dallas Children’s Theater for their tireless efforts to make their sensory-friendly vision come to life.

 

Patty Bates-Ballard is mom to Kory, who has sensory needs, and a grant writer for DCT.