Sunday, October 28, 2012

Original Family Theatre in Austin -- Playground Superhero and Mariachi Girl

Austin Live Theatre Profile

by Michael Meigs

Playground Superhero Pollyanna Mariachi Girl Teatro Vivo Austin TX

Children's theatre -- sometimes passed off as 'family theatre' -- is not easy, despite the deceptive appearance of ease when it's well done. And there's not that much of it in Austin.

Visiting companies set up shop for a single day's performance at the One World Theatre out on Bee Caves Road or at the Paramount and State theatres downtown. And of course, studios such as KidsActing, Buzz Productions, Easy Theatre and Center Stage offer young persons their first experience of performance. There's even the Flying Theatre Machine that will initiate them in improv.

Very often purveyors of children's theatre or theatre by children are offering authorized adaptations of familiar stories, successful children's books, and movies. Lots of these studios and various schools are doing Disney scripts -- for example, the MacTheatre at McCallum Fine Arts Academy performed Disney's Beauty and the Beast this past September and the Buzz Productions did Disney's Alice in Wonderland, Jr. this past May.

There's some piracy, too -- not the Long John Silver type but copyright infringement. To date those occasional offerings by community groups and others have remained below the radar (luckily for them, because Uncle Walt's administrators and their ilk are little inclined to tolerance or mercy).

Last week I attended two productions of original scripts for family theatre, done by uniquely Austin theatre companies in partnership with well-established Austin arts institutions. Judy Matetzschk-Campbell's Pollyanna Theatre Company has been performing since 2002; Teatro Vivo of Rupert and JoAnn Reyes, established at about the same time to serve, entertain and reflect Austin's Tejano community, has now moved into family theatre with a script submitted by Roxanne Schroeder-Arce to their first Latino New Play Festival in 2011.

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