So why should all Chicagoans take their kids (and other people’s kids, and friends of friends of kids) to as much live theater as humanly possible? Let me break it down for you in nine simple ways. Soon enough you’ll be inspired to drag all sorts of children to all sorts of matinees and shows in the park!
In terms of bragging rights, talking about how many quotes your kids recognized from that Robin Hood interpretation you guys just saw sounds so much better than how many rows your kids scaled at the movie you guys just saw.
If I have to hear my children answer any of Dora’s questions one more time, I might smack someone with a rolled up map. Conversely, hearing them respond to an actor’s question for the audience is unbelievably satisfying. (Maybe it has something to do with the fact that each question is only asked once, Dora.)
The earlier you expose kids to the “rules” and behavior of how to be an audience member, the earlier you’ll have kids who can sit and participate in nice dinners, museum tours and lengthy public transit. (It doesn’t have to be a daunting prospect, either; Emerald City’s Little Theatre is geared for the under-4 set and provides a gentle primer for tiny theatergoers.)
There are so many stories in the world and so many ways to tell them. Go see how many of the world’s stories you can share with your kids. For added ways to blow their minds, attend different theater companies’ versions of the same tale. Compare, contrast and take pictures with all of the different Alices from all of her various Wonderlands. (And, if you’re my daughter, keep them all framed on your bedside table.)
Theater teaches empathy. You know how you’re always asking your kid to think of someone else? For an hour or so, they’ll have no choice but to think and feel for other characters and scenarios. (Quick – ask them to unload the dishwasher when you get home to take advantage of all that sensitivity!)
The more productions your children see, the more they’ll actually “see” what goes into a production. Lighting, sound, costumes, direction, stage management and those thrilling headsets … who knows what sort of exciting (and decidedly paid) career they’ll be inspired to pursue?
Theatre Week is cheap. If ever there were a week where you felt the uncontrollable urge to cram as much kid-friendly theater into waking hours, February 11-21 is going to be your (and your wallet’s) very good friend.
Chicago has some of the best theater in the world. All the time. At all hours of the weekday and weekend. Big names, tiny studios, touring shows, walkabouts in the park and some which don’t even require words. You won’t have to wait to discover your family’s favorite show – it’s probably already here.
Seeing theater is fun. Hanging out with your fun kids while doing fun things is one of those easy, kid-related decisions. (There are so many tough choices when it comes to children – this isn’t one of them. Unless you’re deciding which one to see first.)