Imagine a live theatre experience that welcomes all, where the actors gently guide children on an interactive journey and everyone in the audience not only welcomes but also understands the intricacies and gifts of children on the autism spectrum. Red Kite, Brown Box, inspired by the book Not a Box by Antoinette Portis, is the latest theater experience presented by the Chicago Children's Theatre. This multi-sensory adventure actually encourages children to move, laugh, talk, sing and interact with the artists and is specially tailored to fit the unique needs of children affected by autism.
Before founding Chicago Children's Theatre, Chicago Children's Theatre Artistic Director Jacqueline Russell worked for 14 years as an artist in residence at Agassiz Elementary School, teaching drama to two autism-specific classrooms through CAPE (Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education). Her experience with students on the autism spectrum led her to conceive Red Kite, Brown Box, the fifth offering from Chicago Children's Theatre's ongoing Red Kite Project, a branch of the Chicago Children's Theatre with a commitment to serving children with special needs, especially autism, through the arts.
Families are prepared for this special experience immediately after tickets are booked: each child and adult is sent a detailed Social Story - a preview of Red Kite, Brown Box that walks children through the theater experience with the goal of minimizing potential anxiety. Upon arrival at the theater, children will first meet Papa Tim, one of the presentation's main characters, a loving father who has just moved his family into their brand new home. The trouble is that Papa Tim's kids can't fall asleep with all the exciting big moving boxes scattered around the new house. A series of sensory events that include textures, sounds, and lights follows as Papa Tim tries to get the kids to sleep. The show ends with a calming lullaby and as the whole theater space fills with stars, children are invited to take a moment to relax and ponder their new theatrical experience.
As Andrea K., a parent of a child who previously attended Red Kite Round Up, explained: "There are really not words to describe our experience at Red Kite! I was brought to tears watching my son experience camping, singing, make believe and humor in a way he would find magical. Usually, the world is too loud, too bright and just plain hard to maneuver. So to have this experience where I could just sit back and watch him smile, participate and enjoy drama and pretend play was magical."
To keep Red Kite, Brown Box more focused and better tailored to the special needs of each child attending, the number of tickets sold for each performance is limited to only 10 children and accompanying adults, plus 10 observers.
Performances run from Feb. 14-Mar. 1, 2014 at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion Choral Rehearsal Room in Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph St., Chicago.
Show times are:
Fri., Feb. 14 at 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.
Sun., Feb. 16 at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Thurs. and Fri., Feb 20 and 21 at 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and 11:45 a.m.
Sat. and Sun., Feb. 22 and 23 at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Thurs. and Fri., Feb. 27 and 28 at 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and 11:45 a.m.
Sat. Mar. 1 at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Tickets are $20 per child, includes one caregiver, with additional observation seats at $10 each. Red Kite, Brown Box is appropriate for children ages 5 to 14. For more information or to reserve tickets, contact David Amaral at 773.227.0180 ext. 15, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit theredkiteproject.org.