Smile Politely

Krannert Center announced its 2019-2020 Youth Series

KCPA curates their schedule each year to appeal to a wide variety of audiences, and kids are no exception. They do a great job of bringing in performers across the arts spectrum to hook those youngsters into the arts at an early age. The series kicks off on May 8th with a Season Preview and Educator Appreciation event where teachers, administrators, and others who work with youth can see what’s coming up, and place advance ticket orders, and those tickets are just $5 each thanks to Krannert’s Campaign for Young Audiences and Youth Series endowments. 

Here is the full slate of performances, from the press release:

Bizhiki Culture & Dance Company

We-Th Sep 18-19, 2019, at 10am | Tryon Festival Theatre • $5/Ticket 

Recommended for grades 1-5

Intricate storytelling, a blending of traditional and contemporary song and dance, and a deep connection to to traditional ecological knowledge form the heart of Bizhiki Culture & Dance Company. Krannert Center is joined by the University of Illinois Native American House for this powerful, intriguing, and informative powwow dance exhibit—a beautiful representation of the company’s commitment to public engagement, education, and to furthering the understanding of Indigenous cultures, resiliency, and revitalization. Powwow dance categories including traditional, jingle, and woodlands will all highlight the artistry and athleticism of these present-day dance styles.

Isango Ensemble: Aesop’s Fables

Tu-We Oct 1-2, 2019, at 10am | Tryon Festival Theatre • $5/Ticket 

Recommended for grades 1-5

Isango Ensemble came to life in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2000—the creation of director Mark Dornford-May and music director Pauline Malefane, who draw artists from surrounding townships to reimagine the Western theatre canon within a South African setting. Isango Ensemble brought Krannert Center audiences joyfully to their feet in 2014, and the company returns to the Center with its vibrant and comedic turn on Aesop’s Fables. Based on a brilliant script from playwright Peter Terson, the expressive tale portrays the ancient Greek story of a servant on a journey to Mount Olympus, contextualized in the recent history of South Africa and sung in English, Tswana, and Zulu. Travel with Aesop as he encounters a host of colorful animal characters such as the tortoise and the hare and learns the balance of liberty and responsibility in this contemporary, playfully energetic, and beautifully rendered music, theatre, and dance production.

Trick of the Light Theatre: The Bookbinder

We-Fr Nov 6-8, 2019, at 10am and 12:30pm | Studio Theatre • $5/Ticket 

Recommended for grades 3 and up

They say you can get lost in a good book. But it’s worse to get lost in a bad one. . . .

And so begins the magically intriguing journey of The Bookbinder created by the inventive artists of New Zealand’s award-winning Trick of the Light Theatre. This one-person show, written by Ralph McCubbin Howell and directed by Hannah Smith, pays homage to old-world fairy tale traditions with touches of darkness, mystery, and high-stakes daring as an apprentice bookbinder gets rather too engaged in his work. Trick of the Light employs puppetry, shadow play, music, and paper art, all bound together in a mayhem-filled fable for curious children and adventurous adults.

Harlem 100—Celebrating the Harlem Renaissance

Featuring Mwenso and the Shakes with special guests Brianna Thomas, Michela Marino Lerman, and Vuyo Sotashe

Th Nov 14, 2019, at 10am and 12:30pm | Colwell Playhouse • $5/Ticket 

Recommended for grades 4 and up

Join Mwenso and the Shakes in this celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance. This unique troupe of global artists presents music that merges the highest level of entertainment and artistry while commanding a formidable timeline of jazz and blues expression through African and Afro American music.

Created in collaboration with the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, this multimedia show captures the sights and sounds of Harlem when legendary artists such as Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Langston Hughes, and Billie Holiday made Harlem the cultural center of the country. Hosted by Michael Mwenso, Harlem 100 presents the most exciting Harlem musicians and dancers in a modern variety show and pays homage to the presentations made famous in the Apollo Theater, the Cotton Club, and other celebrated venues of the Harlem Renaissance.

Brush Theatre: Yao Yao

We-Th Jan 22-23, 2020, at 10am and 12:30pm, and Fr Jan 24, 2020 at 10am | Studio Theatre • $5/Ticket 

Recommended for grades PreK-2

Yao is a mischievous little girl who delights in time spent with her father. But she’s disappointed every morning when her dad must don his suit and briefcase and head to work. One ordinary morning, Yao grabs onto his overcoat and accidently pulls a thread that unravels a charming adventure. Through this spirited blend of reality and fantasy that incorporates shadow-play, pantomime, live music, and digital media, audiences of all ages will go on a journey with this endearing Seoul-based theatre troupe to see where the thread ends!

Step Afrika!: Drumfolk

Th-Fr Feb 6-7, 2020, at 10am | Colwell Playhouse • $5/Ticket 

Recommended for grades 3 and up

On the heels of its critically acclaimed work, The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence, Step Afrika! introduces Drumfolk, a high-energy exploration of the drum as an instrument of community, resilience, and determination. Drumfolk is the second work by Step Afrika! that chronicles and celebrates the African-American experience in America. Grounded in extensive research and over two decades of percussive practice and investigation, Drumfolk reveals hidden histories and events that transformed American life and experience.

Cirque FLIP Fabrique: Blizzard

Mo Feb 24, 2020, at 10am and 12:30pm, and Tu Feb 25, 2020, at 10am | Colwell Playhouse • $5/Ticket 

Recommended for grades 3 and up

In the midst of a Midwestern deep freeze, perhaps you’ve asked yourself—has winter taken over? Has the frost crept across the fields, down the streets, maybe right into our very homes or even our own hearts? Québec’s youthful, fearless, masterful Cirque FLIP Fabrique asks just that in a magically poetic, cirque-style expedition that’s taking worldwide stages by storm! As live music sparkles in the air, snowballs soar aloft and are met with high-flying acrobatics, remarkable contortions, and the curious possibilities that become clear just when it looks like white-out conditions have arrived. Bundle up and come join us!

Cahoots NI: Penguins

Tu Mar 10, 2020 at 10am, We-Th Mar 11-12, 2020, at 10am and 12:30pm | Studio Theatre • $5/Ticket 

Recommended for grades PreK-3

New York City’s Central Park Zoo is home to myriad animals from throughout the world—including a special pair of bonded male penguins who delight in their big-city life by walking, playing, swimming, and dancing together. When the duo attempts to “hatch” a rock, a zookeeper gives them an abandoned egg instead, and thus begins a little family adventure. Northern Ireland’s Cahoots NI returns to Krannert Center with a enchanting and heartfelt tale, filled with music, dance, and non-verbal theatre and based on a true story about love and the ever-evolving meaning of family. A co-production with Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Prime Theatre.

TAO: Drum Heart

We-Th Mar 11-12, 2020, at 10am | Tryon Festival Theatre • $5/Ticket 

Recommended for grades 4 and up

The performers who take the stage for TAO are both highly trained athletes and highly expressive artists. TAO’s modern, high-energy performances showcasing the ancient art of Japanese drumming have transfixed audiences worldwide. Combining ultra-physical, large-scale drumming with contemporary costumes, dynamic choreography, and innovative visuals, the performers of TAO create an unforgettable production. Established in Japan’s Aichi region in 1995, TAO’s creative production center is now on Kyushu Island, site of the legendary Aso Kuju National Park.

Slingsby Theatre: Emil and the Detectives

Tu-We May 5-6, 2020, at 10am and 12:30pm | Colwell Playhouse • $5/Ticket 

Recommended for grades 3-6

Young Emil catches a train to visit family, but something valuable is stolen from him, and Emil ends up alone in the big city, lost and rather desperate. A group of quick-thinking and resourceful children rallies around, and the thief soon discovers Emil was not such an easy target. Can a bunch of kids work together to uncover and outsmart the criminal? 

Emil and the Detectives is a journey about exploration and self-discovery, the value of friendships and taking risks, and the empowerment of young people.

 Photo provided by Krannert Center for the Performing Arts

Managing Editor

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