A&E » Arts

Kids play tackles tough issues

This year’s Children’s Art Festival has a new dimension.



What: Peacemaker

Where: MY (Millennium) Place

When: Saturday, May 29, 7 p.m.

Tickets: $8 - $10 ($30/family of four)

The Whistler Arts Council has coordinated the return visit of the Vancouver-based Green Thumb children’s theatre company to coincide with next weekend’s festival. Green Thumb will perform their long-running work Peacemaker at MY Place on Saturday, May 29.

The David Holman-penned play features a fantastical society wherein two groups of people, the "reds" and "blues" live separated by a wall. While the art direction is whimsical, funny and fast-paced, Peacemaker is anything but fluffy Saturday-morning cartoon escapism. Instead of mental lethargy, the conclusion of the play tends to open intergenerational discussion channels about war, cultural diversity and tolerance.

"Green Thumb are an issue-based theatre company so our plays always tackle social issues of one kind or another," notes Green Thumb’s Daniel Dolan. "We try to entertain children but also bring up very serious themes for them to discuss, and start thinking about.

"We pride ourselves in not just neatly wrapping everything up. We don’t lecture them; we just present them with a play."

The not for profit organization has been purveying the successful formula for the past 30 years.

It’s almost sad, notes Dolan, that plays like Peacemaker, and the racism-themed New Canadian Kid continue to be relevant.

Peacemaker was obviously created with East and West Germany in mind. However, more than a decade after the fall of the Berlin Wall the production still applies to situations in Israel and the Balkans.

Kids of a certain age are not immune to international news and events, says Dolan, and the company keeps that in mind.

"We tend not to talk down to kids. We’re not saying ‘you’re a kid so you don’t understand these things so we’ll just make you laugh,’" he explains.

"Overall we’ve been very successful, we’re still going strong and our tours sell out and that’s because we’re doing stuff that tackles meaty subject matter."

The nature of Peacemaker, however, is such that the spectacle will entertain even those kids too young to understand what Dolan calls the "capital I issue."

"It has a real family appeal. Even kids who are too little will still enjoy the play about people who are enemies, will ask why won’t the blues be friends with the reds?"

"They’ll still enjoy the comic antics."

The Whistler Arts Council presents Green Thumb Theatre’s Peacemaker Saturday, May 29 at 7 p.m. at MY Place in conjunction with the 22 nd Annual Children’s Art Festival.

Tickets are $8 for kids, $10 for adults or $30 for a family of four.

For more information call 604-935-8410.

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