Theatre for all: Festival aims to expose kids and families to theater

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Now in its third year, Arts for Lawrence is again giving an opportunity for kids and families to be exposed to the world of theater with the Children’s Theatre Festival at the Fort.

Taking place at the historic Theater at the Fort, AFL’s home base at 8920 Otis Ave. in Lawrence, the daylong event will be centered on theater acts with a festival taking place around it.

“Last year, it was scaled down a lot, but this year we’re bringing it back really big,” AFL Program Coordinator Lecia Floyd said.

When the event launched in 2016, Arts for Lawrence was relatively new.

“We were just trying to come up with all the ways we could involve the community in the arts,” Floyd said. “Growing up in the performing arts, I saw so many times where parents would drop their kids off and then leave, but we really wanted to make this a family oriented event so parents could come watch theater with their kids. We also wanted to provide something for kids who maybe haven’t been able to experience theater. This is a really cool and fun way, in short little bursts, for them to be able to experience it.”

For the first time, festival admission is free.

“The first years we did charge, but this year we didn’t want to do that because we wanted to make sure it was accessible for everyone,” Floyd said. “We do have a $10 suggested donation, but by no means does anyone have to do that.”

Six theater performances from Theater at the Fort mainstays will anchor the event. They are:

  • Luis Oliva – Oliva teaches miming and puppetry at Theater at the Fort. He also is in charge of the theater’s circus club.
  • Jamahl Keyes – Keyes will perform a magic act that combines magic with comedy and Motown music.
  • Jason Adams – Adams is a puppeteer, storyteller and variety performer.
  • Adam Riviere – Riviere is a world percussionist who invites kids on stage to learn about a variety of percussion instruments.
  • Act A Foo – An improv group that will perform a kid-friendly show.
  • Youth Dance Group

“There are a lot of interactive elements to it,” Floyd said. “It’s indoor and outdoor, so all of the theater events will happen indoors from noon to 6 p.m. Theater performances will run every hour on the hour for 30 to 40 minutes.”

Festival activities will continue while the theater acts are performaing.

“We’ll have different stations set up where there will be different art activities,” Floyd said.

Other features of the day include the Indianapolis Public Library Bookmobile, where kids can check out books; rock painting for rocks to be placed in the theater’s rock garden after a new patio area is built; outdoor yard games; food trucks; live music; puppetry; a dress-up trunk; and more.

“In planning this, the big thing was to make it as interactive and exciting as possible,” Floyd said. “There are lots of kids who think theatre is boring or they’re scared to get involved. This kind of takes all of that away.”

The Children’s Theatre Festival is from noon to 6 p.m. Sept. 15 at Theater at the Fort, 8920 Otis Ave., Lawrence. For more, visit artsforlawrence.org.

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