Theater + Science = Tolerance

Crayons -- a simple tool for teaching children that different is beautiful

Childsplay of Tempe has long produced and performed works that help folks see more of each other’s similarities than differences — and to embrace and appreciate the differences.

This weekend Valley families will enjoy a rare opportunity to see Childsplay perform “New Kid” at the Arizona Science Center — a performance meant to enhance the principles of tolerance promoted by the current “RACE: Are We So Different?” exhibit.

The “RACE” exhibit is a “limited engagement” offering you can enjoy at the Arizona Science Center only through Jan 2, 2011. It’s a multi-sensory, hands-on exhibit that’ll help you separate fact from fiction on the topic of race in America.

“New Kid” is appropriate for grades K-8, and addresses multiple themes relevant to the everyday lives of today’s youth — including bullies and targets, stereotypes and prejudice.

It’ll inspire your children to think more about immigration and emigration, language and communication, and different cultures and customs — and to consider ways we can all transcend differences and celebrate diversity.

“New Kid,” written by Dennis Foon, recounts the tale of Nick and his mother, who leave “Homeland” for the U.S. — where they must learn many new things. Think new language, new foods, new sports, new customs.

While one peer befriends Nick, another bullies him — and both Nick and his mom experience challenges along the way.

“Eventually,” notes Childsplay, “everyone begins to adjust and Nick learns to maintain his respect for his family’s culture and heritage, while embracing his new homeland.”

Childsplay’s “New Kid” resource guide, available online, suggests the following links to supplement learning about tolerance and related issues: www.teachingtolerance.org, www.bullying.org, www.superiorcourt.maricopa.gov and www.census.org.

Childsplay also recommends three book titles — “Hannah’s Journal: The Story of an Immigrant Girl” by Marissa Moss, “The Hundred Dresses” by Eleanor Estes and “The Recess Queen” by Alexis ONeill.

Local mom Dana Wolfe Naimark, who heads the Children’s Action Alliance in Phoenix, recommends “The Sneetches and Other Stories” by Theodor Giesel (known to most as Dr. Seuss).

“New Kid” is being performed Sat, Dec 18, from 10:30-11:30am at the Arizona Science Center, located at 600 E. Washington St. in Phoenix. It’s free with paid general admission to the museum — but space is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.

The lobby and ticketing at Arizona Science Center will open that day at 9:30am for members and 10am for the general public. (Savvy parents who aren’t yet members can join the Arizona Science Center today to enjoy this and other member benefits.)

I’ve raised three Arizona kids — and together we’ve enjoyed countless trips to the Arizona Science Center and to Childsplay productions. It’s no surprise, I suppose, that they’ve chosen careers in theater, cultural anthropology and science — and that they’re all active supporters of diversity and social justice.

Theater + Science = Tolerance

– Lynn

Note: The Arizona Science Center presents “Bio Buzz Family Series” free with general admission from 1:45-2:15pm on “third Saturdays.” The Dec 18 topic is “Vitamin D: Disease Fighter and Fountain of Youth.”

Coming up: More art and science — as “Stage Mom” explores a traveling Smithsonian exhibit at the Arizona Museum for Youth and the diverse exhibits of the Arizona Museum for Natural History

One response to “Theater + Science = Tolerance

  1. Mary Spangenberg

    Every time I think to myself, “Well, Childsplay you have outdone yourself this time I see another production and am pleasantly surprised.” This was an outstanding show and I recommend everyone see it. Adults need the lesson too. The RACE exhibit is very interesting as well! (Especially in today’s troublesome world times) Thanks for a great article.

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