Dallas Children's Theater Blog

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

Imaginative storytelling for kids of all ages!

Everyone is a storyteller…these tools can get you started…

With simplicity and ease of access, Birmingham Children’s Theatre has brought together storytelling and puppetry. With three different productions to choose from, chances are you’ll find something your little one will enjoy. Maybe they will be inspired to create a play of their very own. Runtime 8-12 minutes.


Want less viewing and more doing? Here’s an app that lets kids safely create their own production. TELESTORY is only available in the Apple App store, but it is definitely worth a look. Kids get to pretend they are television producers, directors and writers who star in their own shows, as well as learn some valuable skills in content creating! They get to plan their shows, write the scripts, rehearse, record and perform in them, and then edit the completed shows. It features model shows and general templates that they can use if they need inspiration.


Another great creativity-focused app is TOONTASTIC 3D. This app allows your children to make their own cartoons! We recommend Toontastic 3D for ages 5-12. It includes various story outlines, scenes and dozens of colorful characters. Kids can either use those characters or create their own with simple drawing tools, press “record” and then move characters around and narrate the story with their own voice recording. They can add a musical score, and put all the pieces together in a single 3D cartoon. The app also has cartoons created by other kids and useful storytelling tips. Download off the Apple App store, or Google Play.

Stay busy! Stay creative!

Memorable Moments at DCT: One father’s story

Memorable Moments at DCT:
Erin’s Dad, John, shares his perspective…Part 3

We want to thank all of you who are taking an opportunity during these challenging times to share your DCT stories with us. Erin and her parents are great examples of the impact DCT has had on so many families. Read on as young Erin quizzes her dad about his DCT memories…
 
How did you come to know about DCT?

“I came to know about DCT because my wife told me about it, and we started taking you and your brother there. I think we are really blessed to have such a great children’s theater in Dallas, and it’s a fun activity for everyone in the community.”

What is your earliest memory of going to DCT with me?

“I remember going to ‘The Mummy’s Claw’ with you and your brother, and you having a combination of loving it experience and also a being on the edge of your seats reaction. But, DCT works hard to make every kid have a positive experience, and by the time we left, you both wanted to see it again, and like all the performances, ‘The Mummy’s Claw’ was superb.”

Do you have a favorite moment at DCT?

“My favorite moment at the theater was pretty much at every performance we went to when you and your brother were little; when we got out of the theater at the end, and all the actors and actresses were accessible, and you two were able to meet people who were representing characters that you had grown to love during the performance. That ability to be able to engage with the actors behind the scenes was something that I really liked because I could see the joy in your eyes and your excitement.”

What do you think is different about seeing a show at DCT versus going to a movie or watching TV?

“I think it’s really different because there is more of a sense of community when you are watching a DCT production, and you see other people there that are really enjoying something that’s playing out in front of them in a very visceral way. Unlike at a movie theater where everyone is experiencing something individually at their seats, at DCT, there is way more of a sense of community both before the show , during the show, and after the show. At the end, you get to meet the actors and actresses, so you get a chance to become much more a part of what you are seeing.”

Why should families make DCT visits a priority?

“Families should make DCT visits a priority because it is a crown-jewel in Dallas that doesn’t exist in a lot of other cities. The type of shows that DCT is able to put on and how incredible they are, they are as good as any adult oriented performance you could see. The production values are super high, the people there care so much, and it’s more of a total experience. You aren’t just going there to witness something; you are able to engage. On top of that, there are all sorts of programs that they offer that allow children to really be able to engage more in the arts than just going to see performances. It’s something that is really unique, and we are super lucky to have it in Dallas, and people who don’t take advantage of that are missing out.”

Did you miss the first two posts? Catch up!
Memorable Moments: One Child’s Story
Memorable Moments: Erin’s Mom, Julie, shares her perspective

Production photo by Linda Blase. Additional photos courtesy of John Parolisi.

Memorable Moments at DCT: One parent’s story

Memorable Moments at DCT:
Erin’s Mom, Julie, shares her perspective…Part 2

We want to thank all of you who are taking an opportunity during these challenging times to share your DCT stories with us. Erin and her parents are great examples of the impact DCT has had on so many families. Read on as young Erin quizzes her mom about her DCT memories…

How did you come to know about DCT?

“When we moved to Dallas from Chicago, I was looking for activities to do with my kids, and I was delighted to find a theater that specifically targeted families because we did not have that in Chicago. So, in Dallas we got a year-round opportunity to see productions as a family versus in Chicago where maybe once a year a theater would do something for kids.”

What is your earliest memory of going to DCT with me?

“I remember taking you to see ‘If You Give a Pig a Party’ at the start of the season when we moved here, and you loved it so much. It was celebratory, and it was funny. You and your brother talked about it in the car ride all the way home. You laughed about it, and it was great!”

Do you have a favorite moment at DCT?

“I always enjoyed taking you to see shows, but I also was really excited when you wanted to take summer camp at DCT and be part of a show yourself. What I really liked over the course of the camp was that it brought you out of your shell, especially when you would tell me on the car ride home how excited you were about the costume, and how you came up with some crazy dog character. It just sounded really fun, and you would do the acting exercises in front of the mirror, especially the one with your hand going in front of your face and changing your expressions. So, I was just really excited to see you develop a passion.”

What do you think is different about seeing a show at DCT versus going to a movie or watching TV?

“You and your brother always liked watching things on TV, but you both would always zone-out a little bit. When the productions are live and in front of you, it’s a lot more exciting. You’ve got a much larger group of kids around you, so the laughter is infectious. Not only did you both pay more attention, but the experience is more creative, and anything can happen. At Dallas Children’s Theater especially, the actors are very good at coming out into the audience and being interactive. I just like that ability to see creativity live.”

Why should families make DCT visits a priority?

“I think all families should make DCT a priority because it is live, it is creative, it is right in our backyard, it is a perfect introduction into a lifelong support of the arts. It’s fun and engaging, and as a family, you remember it and talk about it. It creates great memories and it’s something wonderful to do together. It’s also a great field trip for a family to get out of your house and explore Dallas.”

Did you miss Erin’s original post? Catch up here.

Next week: Erin’s dad, John, talks about his memorable moments.

Photos courtesy of Julie Parolisi

How are you doing, parents? Got the fenced-in blues? Take 15 minutes for yourself.

This summer: Relax and grow with these resources specifically chosen for busy moms and dads!

Dallas Children’s Theater understands that the recent isolation requirements don’t create a stressful time for just the little ones, but for parents, too! For this reason, we have a special care package just for the wonderful moms and dads of the world. Thanks for keeping everyone’s spirits up during this trying time.

Take some time for you, and do some animal-themed yoga with DCT Teaching Artist Katy Tye. Your kids will love it, too!  Press play and start to feel better immediately…


Wanting to learn more about technology but intimidated by the amount of resources and technobabble you have to sift through? PwC has kindly made their Digital Fitness App available to download for FREE. This app keeps you up-to-date on new technology, with explanations on all sorts of new innovations.

Simply use this invite code: LRNALL

Download the app on your preferred device! Happy learning!


Alamo Drafthouse is keeping busy, even when social distancing remains necessary. With a number of unique (not for kids!) titles available to stream for a price, you can pour yourself a drink, eat dinner, and have an Alamo Drafthouse experience right in the comfort of your own living room! They’ve been a supportive partner of Dallas Children’s Theater, so we are happy to show them a little love.


The Crow Museum of Asian Art is providing 15-minute mindful meditations. A few minutes of daily deep breathing will yield benefits for a lifetime. Also available, are unique interviews with artists in the Dallas area. Support your local museums and score yourself 15 minutes to get centered.

We hope you discover peaceful and beneficial moments in these tidbits. We appreciate all you do, and we’ll see you again soon!

Memorable Moments at DCT: One child’s story

My DCT Experience, Part 1
By Erin Parolisi

Up until the time that I was around five or six years old, I was very shy and introverted, and I did not like to talk in front of large groups of people. When my mom took my brother and I to our first Dallas Children’s Theater shows, I would never go up on stage during intermission to celebrate audience member’s birthdays, and I rarely ever greeted the cast members after the performances to get them to sign my playbill.

Erin poses for her mom in red and white.

When my mom started to enroll me in Dallas Children’s Theater summer camps, I starred as everything from Superwoman to a “rainbow-mermaid-puppy,” and I started to be able to let my guard down. Ever since then, I have always been more extroverted. The reason for this is because Dallas Children’s Theater has a very welcoming environment where every audience member, camper, and student is allowed to be creative and explore characters as crazy as my “rainbow-mermaid-puppy” without being judged or restricted. When I told Dallas Children’s Theater that I wanted to star in the summer camp musical as a “rainbow-mermaid-puppy,” they actually went through their costume closets and created an outfit for me that resembled what I wanted as close as possible.

As I continued to attend shows with my family, I would even start going up on stage during intermissions to sing the birthday song, even when it wasn’t my birthday month, and I would always make sure to get every single cast member to take photos with me and sign my playbill.

What I find meaningful about the Dallas Children’s Theater experience, and what I feel sets it apart from other theaters, is their ability to put the children above everything else. Obviously, DCT works very hard to produce good quality shows and camps for children, but they also put a great emphasis on inspiring their audience of children and teaching them to use their creativity and to be themselves.

My teachers and my favorite actors and staff members instilled important lessons in me that l continue to benefit from today. I would like to thank them for all the time and effort they put into making my DCT experience magical. It stands out that my DCT experience never felt like daycare. Instead, they pushed me to think outside of the box and be driven by originality.

When you buy a ticket to a Dallas Children’s Theater show or enroll your child in a DCT summer camp, you are not only sending them somewhere that offers great entertainment, but somewhere that provides children with skills and values that go beyond the actual productions. In today’s world where children are preoccupied with electronics and screens, it is more important than ever for them to have a resource for building their creativity and initiative. I hope that Dallas Children’s Theater continues to instill the principles of limitless possibilities in each child. Their technique builds self-esteem, inspires creativity, and helps develop generations of future changemakers. They did just that for me.

Next week: Erin’s mom, Julie, shares her memorable moments!

Photos courtesy of Erin Parolisi

Great children’s theater online…check it out…

DCT is pleased to recommend these two family-friendly productions…

Nothing brings comfort like a musical! In a brand new retelling of a classic story, ZACH Theatre in Austin Texas presents TORTOISE AND HARE, a musical written by Allen Robertson.

Recommended for Ages 5 and up, with a runtime of 1 hour.


Close your eyes and count to…blue? Enjoy the zany, ridiculous world of THE HUNTING OF THE SNARK, brought to you by RGM Productions and Alice House Theatre in London UK. Based on the poem by Alice and Wonderland creator Lewis Carroll; join an unlikely band as they adventure and try to catch the illusive Snark. There’s just one problem: no one on the crew actually knows what a Snark looks like!

Beautifully filmed, and ready to view on YouTube today.

Recommended for ages 4 to 94 with a runtime of 1 hour 20 minutes.

Take care of yourself, DCT misses you!

Our promise…

It’s a really challenging time to be a child right now.

Many have been confined to their homes away from friends, extended family and the melting pot in general, for more than eight weeks. And now, children are trying to process the horrific images they are seeing up close on television of four people’s unconscionable act upon another. Another human being.

It is not okay that the world we are handing over to our children is filled with such divisiveness; such blatant discrimination that openly even dares to justify its existence. It has to stop. It must be fixed. We all must be a part of the solution.

To begin the healing process, we must first collectively believe and proclaim, without equivocation, that Black Lives Matter. We have failed to openly acknowledge and live this truth to the detriment of too many black people for far too long. We mourn the needless and senseless loss of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Botham Jean and so many others. We must come together now to make deliberate and lasting change, so we don’t lose countless more precious lives to injustice. 

Dallas Children’s Theater pledges to do our part to ensure our young black children and their families have every opportunity to freely discover who they are.  As an organization focused on children and families, 365 days a year, we know that each one has something amazing to give to the world. As one of the early entry points for many young children to see themselves and others on stage, we take seriously our responsibility to impress positive lifelong inspiration in them. The stories we offer onstage encourage kindness and acceptance, build self-esteem and teach other important life lessons. 

The Dallas Children’s Theater (DCT) staff comes from many generations, and as storytellers, we have used our stages many times in the last 36 years to talk about heroes like Jackie Robinson, Harriet Tubman, Marian Anderson, Sojourner Truth, and others to EVERYONE in our audiences. From those beautiful historic pieces, to more current stories as Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters, Snowy Day and Other Stories, Yana Wana’s Legend of the Bluebonnet, and Last Stop on Market Street, it has always been DCT’s intent in this work to give parents the tools to talk to their children about shared values, historic wrongs, and the importance of recognizing and celebrating the many beautiful cultures that comprise and contribute to our world.

But as individuals and as an organization, we can do more. We can do better.

We pledge to do our part to work with our brothers and sisters to reflect and celebrate diversity and equity in our work, on our staff, and on our stages. We pledge to continue to ensure that all children see themselves on our stage and feel the sense of belonging and empowerment that naturally pours out from these transcendent moments. We also promise to use the power of theater to spark conversations about tough topics such as racism; conversations that lead to action, understanding and change.

To our parents, we want to be a resource as you search for help in explaining these heartbreaking headlines to your children. In the absence of one of our beautiful plays on stage right now, we offer links to books and other sites that are specifically focused on talking to children about racism. 

Through storytelling, provoking conversation and collaborating with and engaging people of color as part of our artistic and administrative staff, our board and our audiences, Dallas Children’s Theater will play an active role in the dismantling of institutional racism. We owe this to the children we serve who are our foundation, and the foundation of this world.

Read more, learn more, embrace more…

Books

31 Children’s books to support conversations on race, racism and resistance

Local Bookstore: Interabang’s Resources

Anti-Racism For Kids 101: Starting To Talk About Race

 
Radio

National Public Radio: Talking Race With Young Children

 
Websites

Becoming Upended: Teaching and Learning about Race and Racism with Young Children and Their Families

Beyond the Golden Rule

Resources For Talking About Race, Racism And Racialized Violence With Kids

American Psychological Association: Uplifting Youth Through Healthy Communication About Race

How to Talk to Kids about Race and Racism

Photos by: DCT staff, Clarice Sayles, Jihad Muhammad, Lawrence Jenkins, and Karen Almond.

Got a teenager looking for a challenging theater?

Sign up for virtual classes in costume design and auditioning techniques!


Office Hours/Coaching Sessions with Ms. Diana

Hone your presentation skills with guidance from the talented Ms. Diana

Master teacher, director, performer, and acting coach, Diana Sheehan is giving private coaching sessions – take advantage of this amazing opportunity to work with one-on-one with a professional artist. Sessions are based on the individual, but can include:

-Auditioning Skills

-Monologues- Classical, Contemporary, Comedic, and more

-Character and Text Analysis

-For students who want to work on Musical Theater Skills- Diana can incorporate her “Act a Song” techniques during the sessions.  These techniques are a wonderful way for students to move to an advanced level in the world of Musical Theater

DATES AND TIMES:

May 26 – June 12 45 minute sessions

Sign up for times at 1, 2, 3, 4  Monday-Friday Just $55 per session!


Lyle Huchton Costume Design Workshop

Examples of Lyle’s previous work include, ELLA ENCHANTED 2019 and PINKALICIOUS 2016

Work with Lyle Huchton, our amazing costume designer, to grow your skills in design!

Students will have an opportunity to design costumes for some of the characters of a show and then present their designs to their class at the end of the week. Lyle will guide each student on this creative exploration of design in a new and exciting way. Great for experienced designers and those newly interested in the ways of technical costume design.

DATES AND TIMES:

July 6-10
Three 60-90 minute Zoom Sessions  Monday, Wednesday, Friday of that week at 3PM with activities to be provided between the virtual classes.
Cost is $125

Spots are limited

Photos by: Karen Almond, Linda Blase, and DCT staff

Here are some resources for creating your own living room concert!

Time to make music…

 

¡Hola! Grammy Nominee family artist Sonia De Los Santos is smiling through quarantine, because she’s making videos for families to enjoy all around the world! Her activities and songs provide hours of entertainment.

 

About Sonia: Sonia was nominated in 2019 for a Latin Grammy® with her second family music album titled ¡Alegría! and has been hailed by Billboard as “one of the Latin Children’s music artists you should know” and “Best Latin Children’s Music”.

She has been featured on NBC’s Visiones, Sirius XM’s Kids Place Live and WXPN’s Kids Corner among others. She has also made numerous appearances as a singer and guitarist on TV shows like ABC’s Good Morning America, CBS’s The Early Show, and Sprout’s The Sunny Side up Show and has performed with her band in renowned venues and festivals such as Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits, The Getty Museum, Smithsonian Folklife Festival, and many more.
Source: soniadelossantosmusic[dot]com/meet-sonia

Ever wanted to make your own musical instrument?

If you’re feeling crafty, make your own rainstick with Little Island, New York teaching artist, Kelsey Van Ert, out of common household materials. It’s a ton of fun, and so relaxing to listen to because it sounds just like rain!

Did you know? The rainstick is a traditional instrument thought to have originated in Chile. People hollowed-out cactus branches, inserted cactus spines and then filled them with pebbles, raw rice, or dried beans.

Plan a music night with your family and enjoy these great resources!

Activities to help you spend time with your Nana virtually!

In times of social distancing, it can be difficult to maintain true connection with our beloved grandparents. But with these activities, DCT offers some fruitful and fun engagement that can be collaborated on together from a distance. Check them out, take a look back at our amazing season, and connect! Don’t forget to share your results with us via family@dct.org!

Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

Encourage your child to interview a grandparent or someone else dear to them. The goal of the exercise is to help them see that through a spirit of kindness, we can appreciate the different perspectives and experiences of others, especially our elders.

Click here to get the story Click here to get the worksheet

THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR CHRISTMAS SHOW

Encourage your child to fill out, either by drawing a picture or writing, the left half of the attached exercise, and have a grandparent or someone else close to them fill out the right. The goal of the exercise is to trade compliments and give the child (and whoever works with them!) some simple positive reinforcement for sharing and expressing themselves.

Click here to get the story Click here to get the worksheet

LITTLE WOMEN: THE MUSICAL

Encourage your child to write a letter (or e-mail if more convenient) to a grandparent or someone dear to them. Ask them to retell a story they have recently heard or seen – it can be silly or serious. Make sure they indicate the source of the story. Write back and tell them a favorite story of yours and how you experienced it. The goal of the exercise is to allow the child to not only examine how they like to get their information, but also to help them discover their own preferences and organically establish connections with others.

Click here to get the story Click here to get the worksheet

SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK LIVE!

Encourage your child, as well as a grandparent or someone dear to them to fill out the following “I learned” sheet throughout the day. At the end of the day, have them either e-mail or show their sheets to each other. The goal of this exercise is to strengthen awareness of learning in everyday life, and to enforce that even as a grown-up, you never stop learning important lessons!

Click here to get the story Click here to get the worksheet

LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET

Even though the current crisis kept this beautiful production from making it to the stage, the curtain will rise on it hopefully some time next season. So go ahead and get ready by doing this activity. Encourage your child to interview a grandparent or loved one about their experiences over the years and what they have seen. The goal of the exercise is to capture, for a moment, another loving-yet-real, perspective of the world. Encourage the child to come up with their own questions to ask!

Click here to get the story Click here to get the worksheet

Photos credits: by Karen Almond Lawrence Jenkins and via stock photo.