Global storytelling next project for Whidbey Children’s Theater

It’s just what Tinkerbell had in mind.

Children participating in the magic of the theater.

Whidbey Children’s Theater continues its educational outreach through the “Theater for Young Audiences” program.

The next production on the boards is the “Global Village Storytelling” sessions with Jill Johnson, a longtime performer and storyteller-in-residence at an island preschool.

Two storytelling sessions include one for ages 3 to 5 at

10:30 a.m. Saturday, June 7 and another for ages 6 to 12 at 1 p.m. the same day.

In the first session, Johnson invites pre-schoolers and their caregivers to listen and participate in stories to wiggle and jiggle to; stories with songs and singing; stories for fun. Drawing on her work in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean, older students will enjoy Johnson’s real-life story of her travels as well as traditional tales from countries around the world.

The program will end with a theatrically presented “Haida” story, a Native-American tale from the Pacific Northwest.

The Theater for Young Audiences program encourages regular attendance at the theater for children and their families. The purpose is to develop young audience members’ appreciation for storytelling, imagination and creativity.

“There are few live theater opportunities for children in our community,” said Eric Mulholland, executive director of the company.

“My hope is to inspire young people to get involved in theater by making these kinds of programs available for them to enjoy.”

During the first production of the program, “The Magic Fan,” WCT saw more than 800 youth come to the theater to tremendous effect.

“The children loved the play,” said teacher Pat Denny.

“I loved it. I heard several students talking about acting out parts of it during recess. I look forward to next year,” Denny added.

Another great success was “Stories ALIVE!”, a Theater for Young Audiences program which went to South Whidbey schools where seven student-authored stories were performed from Michelle Zisette’s fifth-grade class and Susan Milan’s kindergarten/first-grade class.

Also bringing stories onto the stage is another new aspect of the Theater for Young Audiences program.

“The Multicultural Outreach Tour,” also known as the MOTley Crew, is a literature-based, assembly-style performance geared for students in kindergarten through fifth grades.

The goal of the outreach tour is to bring to life stories from all over the world revolving around a chosen theme for the year like heroes, wisdom and friendship.

The tour has several goals. Not only does it seek to engage the community but it also strives to give performance and practicum experience to students who study drama and celebrates the diversity found in children’s literature.

And the kudos continue as children and adults were wowed during the recent musical puppet play of “The Cow That Loses Its Moo,” presented by AHA! Puppet Theater in conjunction with WCT as part of the program.

The positive effect from the Theater for Young Audiences has been noticeable.

New families have inquired about classes, Mulholland said, and teachers are asking what’s on next for their students at WCT for the next school year.

“We are currently planning our fall program and next year’s line up for Theater for Young Audiences,” Mulholland said.

It was during the run of “The Magic Fan” that Mulholland overheard a little girl who had clasped her hands together in a gesture of “Pleeeeeease!” and pleaded with her mother to enroll her in one of the youth acting classes.

With each new production, children all over the island are being called to the “Neverland” that is the WCT stage.

The theater company continues its regular schedule of theater productions while reaching out to the community with Theater for Young Audiences programs and other recreational classes for youth.

Additionally, WCT launched its drama club this season on the third Thursday of each month, September to June.

For more information call WCT at 221-2282 or visit www.WCT

Patricia Duff can be reached at 221-5300 or pduff@southwhidbey