Dallas Children's Theater Blog

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


Paige Hernandez will create theater piece based on Maya Angelou’s poem “Life Doesn’t Frighten Me”

“Shadow on the wall
Noises down the hall
Life doesn’t frighten me at all”

So begins the poem by famed poet and author Maya Angelou, and soon this poem about courage, resilience and strength will be adapted into a new theater piece for children by multidisciplinary artist Paige Hernandez (she/her/hers).  

Hernandez is a critically acclaimed playwright, performer, director, and choreographer, based in the Washington, DC area.  She has been co-commissioned to create this new work by four theater companies:  Children’s Theatre of Charlotte (NC), Children’s Theater of Madison (WI), Dallas Children’s Theater (TX), and The Rose (NE).  Hernandez is most notably known for her effective fusion of theatre, hip-hop, dance, and education.  She will work directly with children in each theater’s community to generate the content of the play, using the poem and the illustrations by Jean-Michel Basquiat as inspiration and source material.  

“To say that this project feels like a perfect fit is an understatement! I have been a lifelong fan of (Maya) Angelou, (Jean-Michel) Basquiat and specifically of Angelou’s poem, ‘Life Doesn’t Frighten Me.’ I have taught this poem for many years and look forward to putting my mindful hip hop aesthetic into a devised children’s theatre piece,” says Hernandez.  The project will begin in early 2022, with Hernandez conducting workshops with children in each of the theaters’ communities.  These highly participatory workshops will illuminate the similarities and differences of children from different parts of the country, as they respond to the same artistic stimulus. From the workshops, Hernandez will cull and adapt the material which will be used in the creation of the play itself.  Visual art, music, dance, spoken word, and other artistic forms will be incorporated into the final product.

“We are thrilled to have Paige Hernandez on board as Playwright for this project,” says Arlethia Hailstock, School Performance Coordinator and Staff EDI Lead at Children’s Theatre of Charlotte. “Paige is an engaging, energetic, and accomplished artist and educator.  Between Angelou’s words, the energy of the young people involved in the workshops, and Paige’s vision, audiences are in for an incredible experience.”

Workshops in the four cities – Charlotte (NC), Madison (WI), Dallas (TX), and Omaha (NE) will involve youth of various ages and demographics, from first grade through teenage.  As Carina DuMarce, Associate Director of CommUNITY Connections at The Rose in Omaha says “The fact that Paige will be workshopping with The Rose while two of our ‘Teens ‘N’ Theater’ programs are rolling is incredibly exciting! These young people have such a strong, creative voice. It’ll be quite magical to see how the words of ‘Life Doesn’t Frighten Me’ and Paige’s process intertwine with the voice of these teens.” 

The play will get a workshop production at Children’s Theatre of Charlotte in August 2022.  From there, a set of rolling premieres will be scheduled at each of the four collaborating theater companies.  The productions will be appropriate for ages 4 – 8.

 “The potential of this project and the collaboration between these flagship theaters and their communities takes my breath away. Audiences can expect an experience that is authentic, insightful, and that amplifies the voices of children from several communities throughout the country,” says Hernandez.

As an arts educator, Paige Hernandez has taught all ages, in several art disciplines. To date, she has reached more than 10,000 students, from pre-K through college, in hundreds of residencies, workshops, and performances around the world. She has been recognized in several organizations including the Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning through the Arts and Arena Stage where she was awarded the Thomas Fichandler award for exceptional promise in theater education. The Huffington Post named Hernandez a “classroom hero” because of her outstanding arts integration work with STEM initiatives.  As a playwright, she has collaborated with the Lincoln Center and has been commissioned by several companies including the National New Play Network, the Smithsonian, The Kennedy Center, La Jolla Playhouse, the Glimmerglass Festival, and the University of Maryland. Hernandez was named a “Top Theatre Worker You Should Know” by American Theatre Magazine, “40 under 40” by the Washingtonian Magazine, a “Rising Leader of Color” by Theatre Communications Group and a “Citizen Artist” by the Kennedy Center. 

Hernandez received an Individual Artist Award from the Maryland State Arts Council as well as four Helen Hayes nominations for choreography, directing, and performance. She was recently recognized by the Wall Street Journal for her direction of Proof at Everyman Theatre in Maryland where she is also Associate Artistic Director. With her company B-FLY ENTERTAINMENT, Hernandez continues to develop original work for multi-cultural and multi-generational hip hop audiences.  Her original one-woman show, “Havana Hop”, a children’s tale of culture and originality, has toured nationally.

Hernandez applied for the commission through a national open call.  She was selected by a committee of representatives from the four collaborating theaters. Though she already had numerous projects on her agenda for the upcoming year, she didn’t hesitate when offered to take on this project.  With customary exuberance, she accepted the theater companies’ offer.  “I am THRILLED for this invitation. THANK YOU! I can’t wait to dig in,” she said. 


About the project:

A new play by Paige Hernandez, for children ages 3-6 years old, based on Maya Angelou’s poem “Life Doesn’t Frighten Me” from the book “And Still I Rise.” ©1978 by Maya Angelou, Used with permission of Caged Bird Legacy, LLC.

About the theaters:

Children’s Theatre of Charlotte (NC): Children’s Theatre of Charlotte inspires generations to explore the wonder of their world and foster a sense of belonging and empathy. Initiatives like The Kindness Project develop and commission original plays for young audiences that are grounded in actively displaying kindness toward others. Adam Burke, Artistic Director; Nao Tsurumaki, Managing Director.

Children’s Theater of Madison (WI): CTM’s mission is to create vibrant theater experiences that engage, educate and inspire young people and their communities. Founded in 1965, CTM’s productions cast professional adult actors alongside talented youth. Their extensive educational programs include in-school and after-school programs.  Roseann Sheridan, Artistic Director; Allen Ebert, Executive Director.   www.ctmtheater.org

Dallas Children’s Theater (TX): DCT builds bridges of understanding between generations and cultures, instilling an early appreciation of literature, art, and the performing arts in tomorrow’s artists and patrons.  Productions feature professional actors performing for an annual audience of 250,000 young people and their families through mainstage productions, a national touring company, and an arts-in-education program. Nancy Schaeffer, Artistic Director; Artie Olsen, Associate Artistic Director.

The Rose (NE): The Rose Theater in Omaha inspires young people and their families to discover the magic of theater, to find their voices and to enrich their communities. Operating out of a beautiful historic theater, The Rose offers professional productions, student generated works, and a wide array of classes, workshops and residencies serving young people across the metro. Managing Director, Julie Walker and Artistic Director, Matt Gutschick.

Donors help Dallas Children’s Theater create magic at Children’s Health…

On a quiet Wednesday in September, some very important people met up on the hospital’s Channel 77 for an adventure.

Three of them were adults: the hard-working Seacrest Studios hosts Abbie and Marin, and Dallas Children’s Theater’s own Miss Alyssa (aka Belle from DCT’s production of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST). There were four children visible on the screen: Angel, Autumn, J Don, and Acone. They were patients at Children’s Health dealing with their own unique set of challenges, but still wanting to be a part of the fun. And, there was a host of other children participating off camera from their rooms. 

Left to right: J Don, Angel, Acone, and Autumn

Ordinarily, Dallas Children’s Theater makes in-person promotional appearances at the hospital to promote upcoming shows. The cast performs short segments and signs autographs for kiddoes and families alike. With COVID regulations, we had to think of alternative ways to connect with our young audiences. And fortunately, such setbacks don’t deter DCT from ensuring that all children get access to live theater.


“Wow. Yesterday’s show was truly incredible,” sent Abbie in an e-mail after the performance. “We are so excited for next month and can’t thank you enough for all your work in coordinating this virtual workshop. Alyssa is so talented and demonstrated such a deep passion and skill for connecting with and empowering children! We are beyond grateful.”

In wild times such as these, it’s important to remember what really matters: connection, hope, and a whole lot of love.

Dallas Children’s Theater wishes to thank the Ryan Goldblatt Foundation along with Staci and Scott Reznik for making our presence at Children’s Health possible. You believe, as we do, that ALL children deserve the magic of live theater. As we’ve often said, theater is wonderful food for a child’s soul.

Photos: Courtesy of Children’s Health

Bears, Dragons and Lions…oh my! Family fun on sale now.


Adapted by Doug Kmiotek
Based on the book by Michael Bond
Created by Jonathan Rockefeller 
Directed by Douglass Burks

Dec. 5 – Dec. 23, 2021
Recommended for ages 4 and up

It’s holiday time in the Brown household and Paddington – the famous, accident prone bear – is here to save the day! When he and the Brown’s housekeeper, Mrs. Bird, run out of sugar for the seasonal marmalade jam they are preparing, Paddington heads next door to borrow some from Mr. Curry. Unfortunately, the usually grumpy Mr. Curry is even more short tempered than normal as he prepares for a visit from his great aunt who is a stickler for tidiness. Paddington, feeling sorry for Mr. Curry, volunteers to help him with his chores. But Paddington’s good intentions end up leading to chaos, as one by one, each of his tasks take on an unexpected outcome! Will Paddington be able to fix everything in time for everyone to properly celebrate the holidays? Find out in this fun-filled holiday comedy!

Tickets starting at $17

Written by Ernie Nolan
Based on the book by Adam Rubin
Illustrated by Daniel Salmieri
Directed by Nancy Schaeffer
Published by Penguin Group & Produced by special arrangement with Plays for Young Audiences

Jan. 23 – Feb. 20, 2022

Recommended for ages 4 and up

A boy and his dog are watching a TV show about dragons when a mind-blowing secret is revealed: Dragons love tacos! Chicken tacos, beef tacos, great big tacos, teeny tiny tacos, all kinds of tacos. So, the boy and his dog decide to throw a taco party to end all taco parties for a flock of dragons, each with their own unique style and personality. But what are the fiery consequences for eating tacos with spicy jalapeño pepper salsa? This hilarious, dance-filled journey into the field of Dragonology is equal parts ridiculous and delicious, and has all the ingredients for a fantastic time!

Tickets starting at $15

Adapted by Joseph Robinette
Based on the book by C.S. Lewis
Directed by Artie Olaisen
Produced by special arrangement with DRAMATIC PUBLISHING, Woodstock, Illinois

April 3 – May 15, 2022
Recommended for ages 7 and up

One of the most celebrated books in children’s literature and the #1 most requested DCT play returns to the stage to create a remarkable world of magic. Join young adventurers Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy as they step through the not so ordinary wardrobe and into the mythical land of C.S. Lewis’ Narnia. Facing fantastic creatures and fierce battles in the heart and on the land, the four siblings must find the courage to battle the treacherous White Witch in order to end the deadly eternal winter in the beautiful forest. Guided by the all-knowing Lion, Aslan, these discoverers learn to cast aside their own fears to find the heroes within themselves.

Tickets starting at $15

10 Seconds
Written by Miriam Gonzales
Commissioned by Imagination Stage in Bethesda, MD
Directed by Richard T. Quadri

Recommended for audiences ages 13 and up

In a world where deeply-rooted biases and misperceptions easily take hold, life can often feel unnerving – things can change for better or worse in a blink of an eye. Ray and Jimi are Washington, DC high school students who are navigating their young adult worlds and what it means to be young black men in the city. Ray tells the story of a day, and the 10 seconds inside that day, that they will never forget. We see not only their perspectives, but also those of the police they encounter. Through audience engagement and interactive moments, the play provides opportunities for reflection and discussion.

Each performance will be followed by a talkback featuring helpful subject matter resources from law enforcement and area youth groups.

Special Price: $10 per person

Special thanks to the following supporters that are helping us move toward brighter days…