Would Your Toddler Sit Through a Theatre Performance?

K. Emily Bond

Andy Manley children's theatre

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that a new trend is taking center stage in children’s entertainment: highbrow theatre for the 3 feet and under crowd.

Such productions have been popular in Europe for some time, thanks to an abundance of arts subsidies. Where I live in Spain, for example, scarcely a weekend goes by without a public arts spectacle geared towards infants and toddlers. While they are sometimes riveting, other times they can be straight up odd.

Here are some must sees (and a few are you kidding me?’s) from the WSJ.

Egg and Spoon

[In this play] an actor holds a glowing egg and asks, "What do eggs dream about?"

In my estimation, that’s a rather insensitive question to ask a future omelet. Next!


My House

"My House" [is] about a man whose best friend is a watermelon, one child became hysterical when the co-star appeared. Scotland-based performer Andy Manley, who created the piece, says he later learned the child had a melon allergy.

Because this made me laugh, I’d seriously consider taking my son to check it out. Luckily he doesn’t have any food allergies.

"The Green Sheep"

“… a stuffed animal handled by the audience after each performance [is] sprayed with vodka every week to disinfect it after a more-conventional cleaner proved too smelly.”

The only thing worse than a drunk clown is one who disinfects children’s toys with hard liquor.

The Biggest Little House in the Forest

In Minneapolis, toddlers stormed the stage during a bubble-bath sequence in "The Biggest Little House in the Forest," turning the theater into what Children's Theatre Company artistic director Peter Brosius called "a mosh pit."

I got stuck in a mosh pit when Ice T’s hardcore band Body Count played at Lollapolooza in 1991. It’s not an experience I want to pass on to my child.

Experimental-theater artist Ann Carlson’s new project

The Minneapolis group has commissioned a new work from experimental-theater artist Ann Carlson, who two years ago performed a post-modern dance for toddlers in an AstroTurf suit. She's leaning toward a story with an upside-down tree.

… she's intrigued by the question of how babies and toddlers perceive art. "How does performance even read to somebody that old?" she asks. "Is it different than life?"

Um, Ms. Carlson? My toddler’s not an idiot. He’d consider a tree growing upside down different from the norm. 


…kids 6 months to two years sit on drums while performers pound on the instruments, has been a hit in London.


“Goodbye Mr. Muffin”

In 2006, [the Children's Theatre Company in Minneapolis] scrapped a plan to stage "Goodbye Mr. Muffin," about a dying guinea pig, after concluding it should play to a slightly older audience.

The title alone makes me depressed.


…for ages two to four, [White] about an all-white world, slowly drenched with color. Mr. Manley says children have gotten the message—that segregation is wrong—and some are shocked when a character tosses a red egg into the trash. "One little boy one day shouted out, 'Why?"' he recalls.

Sounds like a must see to me!

Which of these would you take your toddler to see?

Image via AndyManley.com

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