DENVER (CBS4) – Some early elementary school children got their first theater experience thanks to a new program at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts Education Department. The program is called Theatre for Young Audience, and the first performance was a play called “In A Pickle” by the British theater group, Oily Cart.
In the production, the children in the audience become part of the play. They become little sheep and wear ears for their costume. The play starts out with a sheep party, which draws them into the make-believe world.
“It’s incredibly immersive, and incredibly tactile … and really connected to all five sense,” said Allison Watrous, Director of Education at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.
The children enter the theater and they’ve entered a new world. There is music and singing to listen to, flowers to smell, and bubbles to touch and play with.
“They’re so open. They’re like sponges, they just suck it all in,” said one of the Oily Cart performers.
“In A Pickle” starts with a sheep party that is an interactive, sensory experience, but then it launches into a story which is an excerpt of Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale”.
“We’ve got them playing and then we slowly put the Shakespeare in, and then they are mesmerized by it,” said another of the Oily Cart performers.
“And it’s really easy to follow the journey without any understanding of the language,” another performer told CBS4.
This kind of fun-filled theater experience is designed to set these children up for a lifetime of appreciating the arts.
“It’s entering the work of Shakespeare’s incredible stories and making it accessible right now. So that when they meet ‘Romeo and Juliet’ later on they go, ‘Oh yea. I’m ready. I’m totally ready.’” Watrous explained.
DCPA Education will follow up this performance with its own production of a play for early elementary school children. This fall, it will perform “The Snowy Day and Other Stories” for more than 18,000 Denver-area children.