Walking the Tightrope: Family Friendly Theatre

I was invited to go see the play “Walking the Tightrope” downtown.

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I was told it was kid friendly, with a suggested starting age of 6. So I booked a babysitter for my two little ones and headed downtown with my 6 year-old boy to the 24th Street Theatre now knowing much about the play.

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Much like other LA peeps, I don’t know downtown that well and when I turned onto 24th street I saw a huge sign that said theatre parking and two young men standing there. I got there early and started talking to them. One of the young men told me how much he loved this theatre, that it was like a second home to him. He lived around the area and used to take a bus to his charter school, in Pacific Palisades!! The young man astounded me. For those of you living outside of LA that means that guy took a bus ride about 1 hour each way to get to a good school.

Turns out 24th Street Theatre serves over 11,000 kids every school year with their Arts Education program. They hold after-school theatre classes for neighborhood kids, assisting them with language development, effective communication skills and building self-confidence.

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I was impressed before the show even began.

They served wine, soda and tamales made from a local.

They even let us eat in the theatre. Bonus for hungry kids.

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Then 24th Street’s Executive Director Jay McAdams introduced the show and he said that the theatre is aiming to create a space that features original, though provoking, stories for people of all ages. ¬†LAb24 pushed the envelope in developing sophisticated new works for young audiences. Lab24 says, “Our work doesn’t look like “traditional children’s theatre” but rather like “adult theatre for kids.”

Sure enough as the lights dimmed all the sudden I realized this was not to be a play put on by Disney. I shifted in my seat peering at my friend and her 6 year-old daughter hoping it was an appropriate choice. I felt comfortable in knowing at least my friend was Danish because I could tell it was not going to be very “American.”

As Director Debbie Devine said in an interview with the LAStage Times, “Around the world, they do really exciting theater for young audiences, about things that are really powerful…death and incest and war. The rest of the world….they are not afraid to put these things on stage. In the US, we’re very reticent to do that. A lot of our family programming is extremely stupid. There’s nothing daring there.”

I've never met her but I like Director Debbie!
I’ve never met her but I like Director Debbie!

I don’t want to ruin the story in case you do go to Walking the Tightrope but essentially it deals with a child learning of a grandparents passing. The theatre was remarkably quiet for so many young people there. I could not believe it in fact.

At one point my son asked me what or who one character represented. I fumbled over my words and then he said to me, “It’s the soul of the grandma.”

OK.

I didn’t even know that my son knew the word soul.

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The play will leave us with a lot to discuss but he already asked about seeing the next show. This was the 3rd out of 4 shows for this season.

At the end of the show I heard my friend silently crying, I had to get the napkin passed between the two kids to get to her. The kids knew she was crying. But that was OK.

Life can be sad. People die. I’m actually more worried about what how my children will handle life’s adversities if I raise them only surrounded by stories that include happy endings.

The acting and set design were wonderful. Really, really well done. The story was beautifully written.

After the show my child and his friend left their thoughts about their favorite part of the show on a board the theatre had created.

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It was a special afternoon and 24th Street Theatre in really onto something.

I’m looking forward to returning to that magical little theatre.

He might not look excited to be with me but I know he was. Deep down.
He might not look excited to be with me but I know he was. Deep down.
Two great friends seeing some great theatre! Smiling sans mom.
Two great friends seeing some great theatre! Smiling sans mom.

 

Tickets can be purchased for Walking the Tightrope at a 10% discount with the password umbrella.