Arts » Arts Etc.

SOMETHING FOR THE CHILDREN

by

Most theaters and live venues advise you to take children no younger than age 3 to their performances, but we've been dragging our toddler to dance performances, concerts — including chamber and club music — and art exhibits since she was a few weeks old.

A few words of advice: It helps if your child has limited exposure to television. Because my daughter Isabel was TV-free until age 2 (and only gets to see Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day a couple of times each week), she is entranced by action that other kids might find too slow. Live performance is her television time.

Taking a toddler to a club means learning to tote earplugs and headphones to cover her sensitive ears from the blast zone (failure to prepare the child properly can lead to hearing damage) and being ready to leave when she says — as ours did recently — "It's too loud." Obviously, it helps to select an outdoor venue, since children aren't asked to sit still. It should also be obvious that some types of music, and some settings, will be too loud, or too smoky, by definition. If it doesn't fit a reasonable standard, be prepared to leave.

In fact, being prepared to leave is the chief prerequisite for a parent exposing a young child to culture. Whether it is a chamber music event or a hip-hop dance recital, when the kid has had it, it's time to go home. Neither a weary child, nor the other patrons, should be forced to endure more than the kid is up for.

In her 126 weeks of life, my child has been exposed to at least that many cultural events, including everything from an outdoor concert of sarode music by an Indian master to modern-dance presentations by Georgina Morgan at Jump-Start Theatre. She not only loves it, she has begun to develop her own preferences and recognize certain types of music and performers.

Some parents are adept at schlepping the kids to grown-up things, as we are, but most of us with children plan our cultural calendars around "children's" activities. Fortunately, San Antonio's season offers a variety of performing arts options specifically tailored to children. The Magik Theater suggests that children age 3 may finally have the attention span for a full production, but here, as in all other things, the rule applies: Be guided by your own child's patience, and don't indulge her with sugar just before the curtain goes up.

A final word of advice: The biggest problem I see with parents whose children accompany them is that the event is a rare one in the family's life. If you attend events frequently with children, they are more likely to know how to behave, and you will be more comfortable with your role in public as well. By selecting events that are free or very low cost, parents are less reluctant to walk out if it proves to be a bad idea. So the best way to expose your kids to culture is to expose yourself, often and cheaply. See our guide to "Low-cost culture" on page 13.

Once our children become teenagers, they may reject everything we introduce, but what they learn to love early could enrich a lifetime. My younger sister has decided that her kids will specialize in dirt bikes — I've decided that mine will recognize Billie Holiday and Bob Dylan, and emulate Martha Graham in the living room. So feel free to dip those little sponges in culture. Just be ready to hit the door when they reach saturation.

KIDS FARE

PECOS BILL'S KINDERGARTEN ROUND-UP
August 31-September 28
$5.25 kids age 1 and up, $4.75 adults
The Steven Stoli Playhouse
11838 Wurzbach at Lockhill-Selma
408-0116

INTERACTIVE CLASSICS: THAT HARP'S A HOPPIN'
September 22
$8 children, $16 adults
Majestic Theater
224 East Houston
554-1010
Deborah Henson-Conant's The Frog Princess explores what happens after "happily ever after." Presented by the San Antonio Symphony.

THE VELVETEEN RABBIT
September 23
$9 day show, $11 evening show
Laurie Auditorium
715 Stadium Drive
340-4060 (CFAS)
A modern dance performance based on Margery Williams' 1992 children's classic. Presented by the Children's Fine Arts Series.

JAPANESE TRADITIONAL PERFORMING ARTS FALL 2002 TOUR: PUPPETS AND NARRATIVE SONG
September 24
$9 day show, $11 evening show
Empire Theater
226 N. St. Mary's Street
340-4060 (CFAS)
Featuring the Koryu Nishikawa Puppet Troupe and Tsuruga Wakasanojo. Hachioji Kuruma Ningyo is a form of puppet theater created by the first Koryu Nisikawa around the end of the Edo period. A rare opportunity to experience Japanese puppet theater with all of its grace, beauty, and music. Presented by CFAS.

THE DINOSAUR SHOW
October 15
$9
Empire Theater
340-4060 (CFAS)
The Paul Mesner Puppets reach into the past to bring back the dinosaurs of yesteryear. Mesner, as Dr. Dino Sawyer, uses hand, rod, shadow, and body puppets to bring this prehistoric tale to life.

RUMPELSTILTSKIN
October 22-November 7
$4.50
Sheldon Vexler Theater
12500 NW Military Highway, Suite 275
302-6820

SEUSSICAL THE MUSICAL
October 22-27
Majestic Theater
224-9600
Starring Cathy Rigby as the Cat in the Hat, the show explores the witty, wild, whimsical world of Dr. Seuss as you've never seen it before. Travel back to your childhood to the land of the Who's and the Jungle of Nool to rediscover the delightfully zany characters created by one of the most beloved storytellers of all time.

GOODNIGHT, OPUS
November 8
$9
Laurie Auditorium
340-4060 (CFAS)
Featuring the Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia. Opus is a whimsical penguin who takes matters into his own hands when his Granny falls asleep in the midst of reading Goodnight Room (a spoof on Goodnight Moon).

BABES IN TOYLAND
December 3
$9 day show, $11 evening show
Empire Theater
340-4060 (CFAS)
The holiday music and timeless charm of Victor Herbert's music.

AMAHL AND THE NIGHT VISITORS
December 10 & 11
$9 day show, $11 evening show
Empire Theater
340-4060 (CFAS)
Originally composed by Giancarlo Menotti, the score is a beautiful story of a crippled shepherd boy, three wise me, and a bright star.

ADVENTURES OF THE TOOTH FAIRY
January 8 through February 1
$5.25 kids age 1 and up, $4.75 adults
The Steven Stoli Playhouse
408-0116

INTERACTIVE CLASSICS: THE THRILL OF THE HUNT
January 12
$8 children, $16 adults
Majestic Theater
554-1010
Follows the exploits in Peter and the Wolf. Featuring conductor David Mairs. Presented by the San Antonio Symphony.

THE SNOW QUEEN
January 28-February 13
$4.50
Sheldon Vexler Theater
From the story by Hans Christian Andersen, 12-year-old Karl and his sister Gerda battle mean old Hobgoblin and the icy Snow Queen. The innocence of youth is the driving force that saves the children.

JOE SCRUGGS IN CONCERT
February 13
$9 day show, $11 evening show
Laurie Auditorium
340-4060 (CFAS)
The multi-award-winning entertainer returns for another hand-clapping, foot-tapping, sing-along, fun-filled event for every member of the family.

ALICE
February 16-March 8
Magik Children's Theater
420 South Alamo
227-2751
Take a journey through Lewis Carroll's mind on the 30th anniversary of San Antonio's most popular rock musical.

THE UGLY DUCKLING
March 5-29
$5.25 kids age 1 and up, $4.75 adults
The Steven Stoli Playhouse
408-0116

comment