Monday, December 21, 2015

Generations explore together at Family Festivities Pre-Show Workshops

By Don Rebar
Community Engagement & Digital Content Manager

Family Festivities workshop participants
discuss the topic of family.
The Playhouse’s Family Festivities series is intended to give young audiences and their families a great theatrical experience, and a series of pre-show workshops provide children, parents, family and friends with a unique opportunity to spend quality time with one another through creative play.

Professional arts educators Mina Hartong and Jennifer Katona are at the helm of these workshops, free and open to Family Festivities attendees. Together, Mina and Jennifer select fun activities that build on the thrill of live performance by exploring each play’s themes in a fun way.

“The last workshop we held was for the Berenstain Bears,” Jennifer recalled. “The theme of the show was family and so the workshop was designed around things they like to do together. Some families shared out images of celebrating holidays, birthdays, trips to the zoo.”

List of favorite family activities from
the Berenstain Bears' workshop.
A lecturer in the City College of New York’s School of Education, Jennifer has been a theater educator for almost 25 years and enjoys introducing young people and their families to the theater – many for the first time.

“It’s exciting to provide an opportunity for families to play together in a new way,” said Jennifer, herself a mother of two.

For Mina, a theater educator at Regional Center for the Arts, a performing arts magnet high school located in Trumbull, these workshops hit closely to her “heart and mind,” and provide a unique chance for young people to discover the arts at an early age.

“I have met some families at our events who are at the Playhouse for the first time,” Mina said. “I also meet a lot or parents who want more theater activities and classes in theater for young children. So we fill that void.”

Mina Hartong leads
a jumping activity.
As the 2015/2016 Family Festivities series continues, Jennifer and Mina will continue to create and lead family workshops for Chicken Dance, Charlotte’s Web, Moon Mouse: A Space Odyssey and Are You My Mother?, while sharing their passion for creative exploration.

“I have been a theater person all my life,” added  Mina, a Fairfield County native. “I always enjoy seeing children arrive with their families excited about seeing live theater. A lot of them dress up and come with their grandparents and they are just pumped to see a live show. I love that.”

“Watching families create theater together and role play is a wonderful gift,” Jennifer added.

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