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Vital People: Festival aims to hook kids on joys of live theatre

Times Colonist - Pedro Arrais, May 27, 2018

Vital People: Festival aims to hook kids on joys of live theatre
Puppeteer Bonnie Duncan will be among the performers at this year’s Family Theatre Festival.
Photograph By LIZ LINDER

The Family Theatre Festival, a festival designed to introduce children to the magic of live theatre in an affordable and interactive way, returns to Victoria with an expanded program and new communities on June 9, 10 and 16.

This is the sixth year of the family-friendly entertainment event, which kicks off the Kaleidoscope Theatre for Young People’s 2018 to 2019 season.

Since its founding in 1974, the professional touring theatre company has created, commissioned and produced more than 100 original plays, or original adaptations for young audiences. They have played to more than 2.5 million children worldwide.

This year’s Family Theatre Festival includes The Last Beothuk, a new work by Kaleidoscope, as well as performances by Puente Theatre, Story Theatre and well-known puppeteer Bonnie Duncan of the Gottabees.

Kaleidoscope has, for the first time, partnered with the Belfry Theatre to bring four productions to life June 9 and 10. On June 16, thanks to the support of presenting sponsor the West Shore Arts Council, the festival will perform in the West Shore for the first time.

A grant by the Victoria Foundation will help make the festival affordable for more families.

“The grant is important because it allows us to keep our prices down,” said Nisha Handman, director of marketing and development at the full-service theatre. “For many younger kids, it will be the first time in their lives that they experience a live, full-production show by professionals.”

At the festival, Kaleidoscope will be premièring When the Sun Crosses the Line, a touching and historical new work that does not shy away from some tough questions.

“I feel its important for us to understand the complex issues of what reconciliation really means to those that may be afraid to ask,” said Roderick Glanville, the theatre’s artistic director.

“Knowing our history changes our future. In our play, June, a 13-year-old girl, asks those through questions that are often the ‘elephant in the room.’”

Kaleidoscope will also be joined by Story Theatre, with their production of Off the Shelf, Star Star Theatre, with their production of Raccoonaissance, and Bonnie Duncan, with her work, Squirrel Stole My Underpants!

For the first time, there will be an one-day extension to the festival, which takes them to the Belmont Secondary School Theatre, with Story Theatre, Paul Kilshaw, loveably quiet clown Daisy and her musical pal Cam.

Tickets for each show are $15 for adults and $10 for children. Performances run 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 9 and 10 at the Belfry Theatre, 1291 Gladstone Ave. and 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. June 16 at Belmont Secondary School, 3041 Langford Lake Rd.

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