Saturday: Teddy Bear Picnic at Laman Library

Bring your teddy bear to the William F. Laman Public Library in North Little Rock on Saturday, Sept. 21 at 2 p.m. for the Teddy Bear Picnic.

At the event, kids can listen to stories, play games and enter the bear cave. The festivities will be held at the library’s lecture hall.

Free and open to kids of all ages.

“Pinkalicious” Opens Friday at Children’s Theatre

“Pinkalicious” is is presented through special arrangement with and all authorized performance materials are supplied by Theatrical Worldwide (TRW), 570 Seventh Avenue, Suite, 2100, New York, NY 10018. (866) 378-9758 theatricalrights.com

“Pinkalicious” is
is presented through special arrangement with and all authorized performance materials are supplied by Theatrical Worldwide (TRW), 570 Seventh Avenue, Suite, 2100, New York, NY 10018. (866) 378-9758
theatricalrights.com

For 34 years, the Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre has brought stories to life on the stage. From characters dressed in full costume, to creative stage designs, the stories magically transform into artistic entertainment for all ages. Each season brings new and entertaining shows for children and their families, and the upcoming 2013-14 season is sure to be a crowd pleaser.

This season features six main stage plays, which “represent a well-rounded lineup of productions diverse in style, subject matter and genre; there is a particular eye to contemporary titles and themes,” says theatre artistic director Bradley Anderson.

The 2013–14 season opens on Sept. 20 with “Pinkalicious,” a story about a little girl who loves pink cupcakes, and runs through Oct. 6. From Oct. 25 to Nov. 10, audiences can enjoy “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” a story written by Keith Smith, the theatre’s resident playwright, based on a poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. “The Engine That Thought It Could” takes the stage from Nov. 29 to Dec. 15, with special holiday shows at 4 p.m. on Saturdays.

In the new year, audiences can enjoy a comical production of “Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type,” a story based on Doreen Cronin’s book, from Jan. 24 to Feb. 9. From March 7-23, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” will be showing with special spring break matinees on March 18-21 at 2:00 p.m. The season closes with “Sleeping Beauty” on April 25 to May 11.

The Children’s Theatre also “transports the magic from the main stage to communities throughout Arkansas in three touring productions each year,” Anderson says. This year’s Children’s Theatre on Tour productions include “The Velveteen Rabbit,” Nov. 12 to Dec. 20; “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” Feb. 13 to March 21; and, “The Engine That Thought It Could,” April 1 to May 9.

“By bringing performances to schools, libraries, festivals and more, the Children’s Theatre is able to fulfill its mission of offering quality arts experiences to communities throughout the entire state,” Anderson says.

In 1979, the Children’s Theatre “began as a professional organization to produce, both on the main stage and on tour, the finest theatre in the region,” says Anderson, who started the theatre, along with the Arkansas Arts Center Board of Trustees. The goal has always been “producing a powerful, fun and exciting series of plays for young people and their families,” he says. Since the beginning, Anderson says the Children’s Theatre has “grown tremendously in size and scope, but stays true to its original mission: to respect the hearts and minds of children and offer shows that challenge and excite them.”

It takes a number of people working together to make each play a success. From actors and costume designers, to set designers, lots of people work together to bring each story to life on stage. According to Anderson, “a core of professional actors from across the country, as well as students who have been training in the summer theatre programs” are the actors in each play. Also, all costumes and sets are designed and constructed in house.

The Children’s Theater is located at 501 East Ninth St. in downtown Little Rock. Show times are Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays at 2 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. The tickets are $10 for Arkansas Arts Center members and $12.50 for non-members; season ticket packages are also available. For more information, call (501) 372-4000 or visit www.arkarts.com.

Jade Fitch is a freelance writer and editor. She earned her master of arts in Rhetoric and Writing from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Thea Donates Art Books to NLRSD

The Thea Foundation recently donated 60 copies of the art book Looking at Paintings, by Erika Langmuir to elementary schools in the North Little Rock School District.

On Monday, Sept. 9, Thea representatives attended the NLRSD principal’s meeting to present the books, which were provided by the Molina Foundation in Torrance, Calif. Each school in the district received five copies of the book.

Looking at Paintings explores the techniques and history of arguably the most popular art medium through a young reader’s perspective. The Molina Foundation, which is dedicated to improving lives through literacy and education, has distributed more than 800,000 books to children all over the country.

The Thea Foundation will also be donating copies of Artist to Artist: 23 Major Illustrators Talk to Children about Their Art by Eric Carle, bequeathed by the Molina Foundation, to high schools in NLRSD at a date to be announced.

For more information, visit www.theafoundation.org or call 501-379-9512.

Saturday: Thea Paves the Way

The Thea Foundation is hosting its eighth annual Thea Paves the Way event on Sept. 14 to kick off the new school year.

Held on the front lawn of the Clinton Presidential Center from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., the day will feature chalk art by area students from kindergarten to college, as well as music and other activities. Students and teachers will also receive free admission to the ClintonCenter on this day, so students are asked to bring a student ID or check in with their teachers when they arrive.

“The event is important because it stresses the effect of the arts in building teamwork, creativity and altogether well-roundedness for students, families and individuals,” says Elain Akin, Thea’s communications director.

Teachers who register their students will have the chance to win one of two $250 gift certificates to art supplies distributor, Dick Blick Art Materials.

Thea Paves the Way is open to the public, not just to those creating chalk art. In previous years, the event has attracted more than 500 participants.

Space is limited, so those wishing to participate are encouraged to make reservations online at www.theafoundation.org by Sept. 12. For more details or questions about the event, email nick@nulltheafoundation.org.

Saturday: AETN Family Day

“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” is the theme for AETN Family Day on Saturday, Sept. 14, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

The event will be held at AETN’s headquarters at 350 South Donaghey Ave. in Conway. It will feature community service drives, like pet food, sweater and book drives.

Kids are encouraged to dress as their favorite PBS KIDS character, and each child in costume will receive a prize from the AETN booth. Other activities include a Bob Ross lookalike contest for kids and adults, interactive kids exhibit, the ArkansasArtsCenter’s Artmobile, story time, face painting, arts and crafts and much more.

There will even be visits from Daniel Tiger of “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,” Martha from “Martha Speaks,” Clifford the Big Red Dog, Arthur and the Cat in the Hat.

For more information and a full schedule of the day’s activities, click here.

 

Suzanna Gibbs: Sharing Art with Kids

As a lifelong art lover, 17-year-old Suzanna Gibbs has found her niche at the Thea Foundation.

Though performance is Gibbs’ art of choice, her work with Thea gives her the chance to be hands-on in visual art, which she says is “really cool.”

“Being on stage is something I love,” she says. “I want to open a window and encourage kids to be creative.”

She first began taking dance classes at age 3, and is now involved in drama and choir, and is captain of the pom squad at Little Rock Christian Academy, where she is a senior. She also dances competitively at Dance Dynamics and has performed at Arkansas Repertory Theatre. So, when she first heard about the Thea Foundation at age 14, Gibbs knew she wanted to get involved.

“I realized other kids are not as fortunate to be involved with art,” she says. “I love getting more kids in Arkansas involved with the arts,” especially since many schools are cutting arts programs.

Over the summer, Gibbs helped out with Thea’s summer arts camps as a teacher’s assistant. She says she enjoyed working with the elementary-age children and helping them “feel accomplished” through art and expressing their creativity.

In fact, getting kids involved with the arts was Gibbs’ platform when she was crowned Miss Pulaski Outstanding Teen 2013. This role has taken her to many schools to talk to kids about the arts.

Gibbs has also performed at Thea during the monthly Argenta Art Walk. And, later this month, she will help out during Thea Paves the Way, a sidewalk chalk art event. She says last year’s event was fun because many high school students attended and created “masterpieces.”

“Seeing them working to make something so cool is really neat to watch,” she says.

Though her favorite school subject is English – she loves dystopian novels, like the Hunger Games series and those written by Margaret Atwood – and her father wants her to become a lawyer, she’s not sure what the future holds. Next year, she says she’s planning to head off to college and explore different avenues before deciding on a major or career path.

Gibbs says being active in the community “makes a person feel good about themselves.” She urges other teens to find something they are passionate about and stick to it.

Overall, Gibbs says she’s learned that anyone is capable of creating art and that it’s a self-esteem booster for kids. She says the arts have always been part of her life, and she knows they always will be.

The Thea Foundation is dedicated to advocating the importance of the arts in the development of youth, through partnerships with local schools, events, programs for children, scholarship opportunities and more. For more information about the foundation, to get involved or donate, visit www.theafoundation.org.

Tuesday: Wiggle Worms at Museum of Discovery

Join the Museum of Discovery on Tuesday, Sept. 2 for the weekly Wiggle Worms program for ages 6 and younger. This week’s theme is “Sticky Salt.”

Wiggle Worms is a weekly program on Tuesdays from 10 to 10:30 a.m. designed to introduce youngsters to science through a fun experiment.

Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for ages 1-12, free for kids under 1, and members are free.

Themes for the rest of September’s Wiggle Worms programs include:

  • Sept. 10: “Defying Gravity”
  • Sept. 17: “Solid, Liquid, Gas”
  • Sept. 24: “Kitchen Chemistry with Argenta Market”

Saturday: English Garden Party Family Festival

On Saturday, Aug. 31, the Arkansas Arts Center will host an English Garden Party Family Festival from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., all in celebration of the “Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Gainsborough: The Treasures of Kenwood House, London” exhibit.

The festival will include games and activities, providing a glimpse into what it would have been like for artists Rembrandt, Van Dyck and Gainsborough.

The event is free for ArtsCenter members and $5 for individuals who are nonmembers and $20 for families.

And, if you haven’t already, be sure to check out the “Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Gainsborough: The Treasures of Kenwood House, London” exhibit, which is on view until Sept. 8.