If you are looking for something culturally enriching to do with your kids, look no further than the Talespinner Children’s Theatre, located in the Gordon Square Arts District.
All of its shows are original works written and performed by Northeast Ohio artists. Each show features a different country — for example, this summer’s “The Princess and the Nightingale” takes place in Thailand.
Talespinner is the only theater venue in Cleveland that is an adult professional company producing work for children. Although the shows are primarily geared toward young audiences, Alison Garrigan, the theater’s executive artistic director, makes sure there is something in it for everyone, including older siblings and parents.
“There needs to be something that’s attractive to every age group,” Garrigan said.
Inclusion and giving back to the community are big priorities for the theater. Talespinner implemented a book sharing program where children can take books from the stack and also leave books for other children to read. In addition, every Friday night and the first Sunday of a show is a “pay what you can” performance.
“It’s literally pay what you can. If you have five kids and nothing in your pocket, you walk in. I never want a single parent who is struggling to both feed their children and keep them mentally engaged and emotionally stimulated to have to make that decision. This way you can do both,” Garrigan said.
The theater’s prices are very reasonable for the quality of the experience, and have stayed the same since Talespinner opened its doors seven years ago. Through the pay what you can program, the theater caters to a wide variety of audiences and connects the community by allowing other theater goers to pay it forward and donate tickets to the program.
The 200-seat theater is ADA accessible. Talespinner is in the process of making its shows even more accessible to the special needs community, and is set to launch four shows in 2019 focused on hearing and speech disorders, autism spectrum disorders, physical special needs, and sight impairment.
“It is more about bringing an inclusive and needs-aware program to the arts,” Garrigan said.
Changes to the theater to make it more inclusive will include being more mindful of lighting and volume, and having interpreters at some of the shows.
If your child likes being on stage more than in the audience, Talespinner has a children’s theater educational program to help kids hone their craft and learn from the professionals. There are eight week-long sessions in fall and spring, as well as a week-long puppet camp in the summer.
“The kids not only learn how to be on stage, but they learn how to write their own scripts, and make their own puppets and masks. We teach them about self confidence, self expression and how to work together as a unit. The whole time, they are just having a great time,” Garrigan said.
Talespinner Children’s Theater will present its next show, “The Boy Who Stole The Sun,” an Inuit creation tale, from September 15 through October 7.