Central Texas’ most well-known children’s theatre company, Pollyanna Theatre, a resident company of the Long Center for the Performing Arts, presents Cowboy in the Kitchen – An Interactive Theatre Experience for Very Young Children by playwright Bethany Lynn Corey. The production runs June 11 and 14 – 18 at 9:30 and 11:00 a.m. at the AT&T Conference Room in the Long Center for the Performing Arts, 701 West Riverside, Austin, TX  78704. Tickets are $6.50 – seating is limited to 30 children per performance. Discounts available for groups of 10 people or more, call (512) 743-7966 or email pollytheatre@gmail.com. Tickets may be purchased by calling (512) 743-7966 or online by visiting  http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2543896

Created for children as early as 18 months – 4 years of age, Cowboy in the Kitchen engages children through a visual theatre style performance and dramatic play right alongside the actors. It is classified as ‘Theatre for the Very Young’ (TVY) – an umbrella term often used to describe a variety of theatre work and practices intentionally designed for children under the age of 6. While TVY is widely performed in Europe and Australia, it has only begun to appear in the US within the past 10 years, and Pollyanna Theatre Company is the first to bring it to the Central Texas region. This season, Pollyanna has produced 2 successful TVY plays with playwright Bethany Lynn Corey, including Under the Big Top and Jamie Doesn’t Want to Take a Bath.

Judy Matetzschk-Campbell, Ph.D., Founder and Artistic Director of Pollyanna Theatre Company, is thrilled to produce this type of theatre for the very young. “Traditionally, Pollyanna patrons are slightly older and more developmentally ready to be audience members who participate by using their imaginations but not their voices or bodies. Younger children, ages 2 – 4, learn through actively playing.  So this newest series of productions provides a bridge for them to merge their natural instincts for dramatic play with a story that invites them to participate. It is a true hybrid of creative drama and theatre for young audiences. For many of these children, it will be their first exposure to a formal theatre experience. We are so excited that they will have this very first audience time with Pollyanna Theatre Company.”

In this new play, Cook is planning a special surprise party and needs to bake a very, very special cake. Musician is busy writing a birthday song to surprise her friend. But just as they get started, Cowboy wanders in and wants to help out. As Cook and Musician set out to get the party ready without ruining the surprise for Cowboy, they are met with some surprises of their own. How can Cook bake a cake when the eggs turn out to be maracas and the cake mix box is full of confetti?  Will Cook and Musician be able to get the party ready in time? Cowboy in the Kitchen invites Pollyanna’s youngest audience members to play along and learn what it is to be an audience member all at the same time.

This production features live music by Lucy Bergin, who plays the role of Musician. Bergin is a voice and early childhood music faculty member at the Armstrong Community Music School, where she teaches students ages 3 to 66. She received her B.A. in Music Performance (voice and flute) from Wellesley College.

The playwright and director, Corey, has an extensive background in both Drama and Education and is currently a Drama Specialist for the Creative Learning Initiative in the Austin Independent School District. She also served as an Early Learning Manager for the Thinkery, the Children’s Museum in Austin, focused on STEAM education.

When it comes to her process, she says, “I focus on creating an immersive experience, a world with childlike characters going on a journey of some sort. Having worked with early learners as an educator I think about what young children know and where they are developmentally as I craft a story. I find discovery, especially the sheer joy in experimenting with a new object, to be one of the most exciting parts of a young child’s world. So I always include lots of opportunities to explore and discover within the pieces I create.”

In addition to public performances, Cowboy in the Kitchen is also available for schools, daycare centers and camps throughout Central Texas.

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