Fringe for the Whole Family!
School is out for the summer, and if you’re looking for all-ages fun at the Hamilton Fringe, look no further!
Geared towards entertaining children and adults alike, Family Fringe has two amazing shows and FREE activities every Saturday during the Festival.
We spoke to Studio Babette Puppet Theatre member Kerry Panavas from Where are you Cinderella?, as well as Toronto-based dance artists Emma Letki and Kelly Morden from Ten Toes Productions, who are bringing their delightful show Thumped! to the Theatre Aquarius Studio.
What are the most rewarding and challenging parts of creating an original show geared towards children and families?
Emma and Kelly:
It’s rewarding when children look up to you and you have the ability to enhance and expand their imaginations while encouraging their creativity as well. It can be challenging to create a dance show that translates clearly for young audiences while also trying to appeal to adults. It’s important to us that the adults in the audience enjoy the show just as much as the kids because it is ultimately the parent’s decision to take their kids to see us perform.
Making a show that appeals to all ages is a rewarding challenge, because although the entertainment must be geared to the youngest ages, we also want the parents to come away with a smile on their face, which means the mature ones in the audience have a little chuckle too!
2) Although this is your first time participating in Hamilton Family Fringe, both of your companies have experience performing child-friendly theatre. Has there been a particularly memorable audience reaction from one of your past shows?
We perform a show called Young Sophia: the Dundurn Castle Diary, inspired by the diary of Sophia MacNab, written in 1846, aged 13, at Dundurn Castle. The way students of today react to, and sympathize with, the trials and tribulations of Victorian children, is always heart-warming and totally endearing.
Emma and Kelly:
It’s funny because we originally didn’t see our company doing children’s theater. However, after our audience’s reaction from Pluto’s Revenge in the 2012 Toronto Fringe Festival, we realized that our style of theatre tends to bring out the silly playful side in adults while at the same time bringing about themes of vulnerability. When Ted Fox from Evi-Dance Radio approached us and asked us why we weren’t classifying our work as children’s theatre, and we were stumped, it suddenly all made sense! It was like we found our unicorn. Kelly has become very active in children’s dance education since Pluto’s Revenge in 2012 and her experiences with kids have added a whole new layer to our work.
3) What do you hope Hamilton audiences take away from your show?
Emma and Kelly:
We hope that our show will inspire Hamilton audiences to cherish, preserve and explore the diverse and rich environments that surround their own backyards. We hope that our show will encourage children to take their imaginations outside and explore the types of entertainment that nature has to offer.
That you are never too young, or too old, for fairy tales! And that puppets speak a universal language for children, who seem to immediately suspend any disbelief, and embrace the idea that these puppets are actually living, breathing characters.