Around this time of the year many parents decide it's time for a special treat, they get their child all dressed up, tell him to be on his best behavior and take him out to see an elaborate show: usually The Nutcracker or A Christmas Carol, maybe Peter and the Wolf. Sometimes it is a splurge on a spectacle like Wintouk or a Broadway show. Don't get me wrong. I'm all for this: anything that gets people to the theater. Frequently it is these holiday shows that fund the rest of a repertory's box office so that they can produce more innovative theater the rest of the year.
But I also liken this kind of theater attendance to going to church only on Christmas and Easter or temple only on Yom Kippur: it's good, you should go, but really, you need to go on a regular basis.
And you need to take your kids.
A few short and sweet reasons:
Theater is about storytelling. Everyone loves a well told story. You probably get tired of reading picture books all day long, let someone else tell the story.
Theater teaches us about ourselves and our place in the world. This is exactly what children are learning about every day.
Theater is about community. Not all theater is about sitting in a darkened room watching distant people talk on the stage. In fact, most theater aimed at children is interactive.
Theater is delightful. We see imaginings and absurdities and wonderful foolishness that we don't see in everyday life. Or at least we think we don't see them. We may start noticing them after a trip to the theater
Theater is fun. I guarantee that the smile on your child's face will be bigger than the one he gets during Blue's Clues.
I could say A LOT about the theater, but I've already written one dissertation, so I will send you over to a good set of articles over at the New Victory which detail the educational and developmental benefits of theater for each age group (besides, why try and write what someone else has already said so splendidly?):"Anytime's a Good Time to Introduce your Child to the Arts": Part 1 and Part 2
I take Kiddo to the theater as often as I can, and I recently took him to see his "special holiday show," Squirm Burpee Circus, at the New Victory Theater (I heart the New Victory), and I am thrilled that I also get to take him to Mummenschanz later this month. I remember them from The Muppet Show, one of only two TV shows I was allowed to watch as a kid. If you are as old as I am you might remember this:
A preview of their upcoming show is also on you tube here, and if you are in New York City at the right time you can catch them at the Skirball Center for Performing Arts Dec. 20 - Jan. 8. Mummenshanz's non-verbal madness somehow manages to speak volumes about human relationships and it is marvelous for kids.
What are you taking your kids to this holiday season? And what do you take them to year round? I'd love to know.
Disclosure: While it is true that I am getting review tickets to Mummenshanz (I'm so excited!), I planned the first part of this post before the offer. As always, all opinions are my own.