Chicago Fringe Festival offers new kid-friendly shows

More than 50 incredible international performers and groups not enough for you at the sixth annual Chicago Fringe Festival? Now you can pack your kiddos alongside your indie cred; the festival gets a pint-sized twist this year with the highly anticipated Kids Fringe.

If you go

The Sixth Annual Chicago Fringe Festival

Through Sept. 13, 2015

No matter what you choose, you can’t go wrong: there’s “That’s Weird, Grandma” from Barrel of Monkeys, the popular series in which stories from third, fourth and fifth graders are acted out by professional performers, Ashley Roberson’s “Once Upon a Zombie Apocalypse” (where the bedtime stories get longer and more ridiculous in an attempt to stave off bedtime), and FoolSize Theatre’s take on “Punch & Judy” in people form.

My girls and I attended last weekend’s “Punch & Judy” and I purposefully gave them zero background as to what they’d see. Turns out, little explanation is needed for Great Britain’s famed (and feisty) puppet duo. Slapstick, clowning and audience participation are apparently universal – and everyone knows that fake noses are hilarious. The girls loved it. (And at 45 minutes in length, it’s the perfect amount of time for show and event-hopping.)

Workshops and crafts also take place around the Jefferson Park venues. (Keep an eye out for the badge-making contest! I know two little girls who put their heart, soul and the better part of three glue sticks into their entries.)

And for the slightly older set, Kelly Haramis’ Double Happiness, “a tale of love, loss and one forever family,” is a heartwarming one-woman show with an amazingly true plot. This – alongside the others – runs through Sunday, Sept. 13. (See the Fringe’s website for full schedule detail.)

Whether you’re planning on working your way through 46 shows in five venues, or keeping it lower key with your Under-12 crew, the Chicago Fringe Festival (with its stellar outreach programs and commitment to engaging nontraditional audiences) is worth supporting. Additionally, artists receive 100 percent of the net ticket sales, something which, I’m sure, would impress the heck out of my children.

And as soon as I can get them to stop referring to each other as “Punch” and “Judy,” I’ll be sure to tell them.

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