Dallas Children's Theater Blog

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

DCT Hosts First Ever Sensory-Friendly Puppet Show

When some families prepare to go out for a special event, their biggest challenge is getting everyone ready and into the car at the same time. For other families, like the 100,000+ families who have a member on the autism spectrum or other developmental disabilities, the biggest challenge is finding an activity their son or daughter will enjoy, in a welcoming, non-threatening environment.

top leftThanks to our friends at The Crystal Charity Ball, DCT has more than $500,000 to expand our Sensory-Friendly Performance Initiative by doubling the number of these performances over the next three years. On March 12, 2016 at 4:30pm, we are offering the first ever, sensory-friendly version of a Kathy Burks Theatre of Puppetry Arts’ production with HANSEL AND GRETEL!

Nancy Schaeffer, DCT’s Education Director, told us why sensory-friendly performances matter now, more than ever. 

The generous grant from The Crystal Charity Ball provides us with the resources we need to tailor our offerings to families who have children with special needs. We were so excited to be able to develop this program after finding out how many families feel excluded from live theater experiences because their children and their sometimes unexpected behaviors aren’t welcome or because the venues they’ve tried in the past really didn’t understand what it means to truly provide a sensory-friendly environment. We have invested the time and energy to set this program up the correct way thanks to all of this wonderful support we’ve gotten, and we couldn’t be happier for our new theater-going families.

Since Kathy Burks Theatre of Puppetry Arts is a vital part of our regular bottom rightseason, we wanted to be able to offer these high-quality, amazingly creative performances to our families that might need the sensory-friendly adaptations and experience. We’re also happy that these families will be introduced to another art form and another way of theatrical expression. We think they’ll love it.

Trish Long is a Master Puppeteer with Kathy Burks Theatre of Puppetry Arts. She tells us how Kathy Burks puppeteers will connect with their new audiences.

All forms of theater should be accessible to all children. From my viewpoint, the characters become just as realistic as shows with real people. It’s quite a magical feeling connecting to the audience, and we’re honored to be included in DCT’s offerings for sensory-friendly families.

Before the sensory-friendly performance of HANSEL AND GRETEL, I’ll be in the lobby showing my puppet to children so they are aware of what they’ll be seeing and won’t have any big surprises. There’s a big difference between real people on stage and watching puppets on stage, even though the puppeteers are able to really bring the characters to life. There have been some children who thought they were watching real people after leaving one of our shows!

The goal of DCT’s programming has always been to make people are understood, and like they fit in. Including the Kathy Burks’ shows as part of our sensory-friendly options opens the door for all families to have new experiences together, at DCT.



Next Sensory-Friendly Performance Day Schedule

3:30 – 4:30pm Optional pre-show activities including facepainting, clown performances and other activities Participate at whatever level is best for your family
4:00pm Doors to the theater are opened
4:30pm Show begins
(There will be NO intermission for this production.)

Kathy Burks Theatre of Puppetry Arts’

March 12, 2016 at 4:30 PM – You don’t always need a prince and princess for your heroes to live happily ever after. Two children in search of food for their hungry family get lost in an enchanted forest. They must depend on all their powers of imagination to save them from the crafty, mysterious old woman in the candy house and (in this less “grim” version) lead them back to the loving arms of their parents. The familiar, melodic music of Engelbert Humperdinck brings an inventive theatricality to the retelling of this beloved fairy tale adventure. HANSEL AND GRETEL brings another feast for the eyes and ears to the stage from Kathy Burks’ Master Puppeteers.

Recommended for ages 4 and up

To Purchase Tickets

DCT wants to make sure families have no barriers that would prevent them from at least sampling these great opportunities created especially for them! Tickets are $5 per person. Regular DCT show prices range from $13 to $28.  Additionally scholarships are available if needed thanks to a grant from The Crystal Charity Ball.  Please inquire when you call in to reserve your tickets.

To purchase tickets or get more information, please call 214-740-0051.

To read more about our sensory program, go to dct.org/sensory

Edward Tulane’s MIRACULOUS JOURNEY is a must-see!

Steph Garrett / DCT Teaching Artist

Recently, I was presented with a MIRACULOUS opportunity. I had the privilege of discussing THE MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF EDWARD TULANE with four very diverse families. Before I go any further, here is a synopsis of the book:

Once, in a house on Egypt Street, there lived a china rabbit named Edward Tulane. The rabbit was very pleased with himself, for he was owned by a girl named Abilene who treated him with the utmost care and adored him completely. And then, one day, he was lost. Throughout his miraculous journey, Edward faced the risk it takes to love and be loved when you open your heart to others.

You might find THE MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF EDWARD TULANE in the Children’s section at the library or a local bookstore, but the book is never “childish”, and the message of love is a simple one that appeals to people of all ages. That was evident in my recent discussion with our “Journeymakers.”

Each family read THE MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF EDWARD TULANE, and then _J2_8970attended a discussion where virtually no topic was off limits. I was very pleased with the openness of the group and the willingness to share such personal stories and how they related to the book. I was surprised at the impressive insight of each member; even the youngest (5 years old) had something to say! Most of the adults said that their children became so emotionally invested when reading the book as a family that that alone was a rewarding experience. One Journeymaker in particular stressed the importance of one of the book’s main themes: listening.

_J2_8754“Everyone is different and has a story to tell, and we should be quiet and listen. You’ll learn more about people and increase your relationships and the depth of those relationships if you just listen to others.”

However, listening isn’t the only important theme in this book. When asked what major themes stood out to them, the other Journeymakers added family, honesty to one’s self, compassion, redemption, and self sacrifice to the list.

I have read the book numerous times, and what was so remarkable was that _J2_8770everyone made his or her own discoveries throughout the story. One finding came from a gentleman in the group. He said, “[Edward] is a fragile bunny, and he has all of these amazing things happen to him. He falls in the ocean, is crushed by garbage, dragged around by a hobo, thrown off a train, and yet, he doesn’t break until he says, ‘I am broken’. All these things are happening to him. The circumstances don’t overwhelm him to the point of breaking until he decided he wasn’t enough. It was the _J2_8779revelation that he was enough and that the relationships he had were important. There are always going to be different circumstances in life, both good and bad, but the choice in how you handle it is what defines you.”

When asked what lessons they learned from Edward Tulane, one child said, “What I wear doesn’t really matter, how I look doesn’t really matter. What I am inside is what matters.” Another child concluded, “Love conquers all. Sometimes, you think you don’t need love, and sometimes love destroys you, but ultimately, love brings you back home.”


Steph Garrett as “The Woman”

The most important lesson I learned from THE MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF EDWARD TULANE, and the dialogue with this remarkable group is that, in life, we don’t always get a second chance. It’s important for all of us to stop, even for a moment, and really listen to each other and look at the world around us. Enjoy a play with your family or a good meal with your friends and just appreciate what life has to offer. Put the screens down, even for a moment, have a conversation with each other and just listen. Life is truly a miraculous journey and those we share it with are irreplaceable.


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THE MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF EDWARD TULANE runs at DCT March 18 – April 10. Watch for more information on the story, and in the meantime we encourage you to read the book. Its stunning, award-winning illustrations will bring the story to life almost as well as our live production. Check it out at your local library or find it on sale at the DCT store.

Recommended for ages 7 and up

Tickets and more show information @ www.dct.org