News Column

TPAC series hopes to open students' minds [News Sentinel]

August 10, 2013


Nashville's Tennessee Performing Arts Center offers an upcoming Season for Young People that goes beyond "diverse."

In addition to blending the arts with literature, history, science and other subjects, the curriculum-based series incorporates a variety of cultures and modes of expression -- but also a host of locally created works.

Consider, for example, next spring's "Give Yourself a High Five," an interactive performance for youth based on the first CD that TPAC has ever produced. Then there are the renowned Fisk Jubilee Singers; "Burden of Justice: 1863," an original courtroom drama from area company Theater Craft Inc.; and the premiere of "Pinocchio," co- produced by TPAC Education and Montreal's Theatre Tout a Trac.

"We're all about the quality of the experience," says Roberta Ciuffo West, TPAC's executive vice president for education and outreach. "We're always trying to increase the amount of interaction that we have with the artists."

Hugo Belanger, artistic director of Theatre Tout a Trac, says he contacted TPAC to help create the first English version of the company's masked theater/puppetry production of "Pinocchio" because of shared views about the power of imagination in theater -- and in life.

"It's unique," West says. "There's an unusual diversity here. It's pretty impressive to me to have this kind of diversity within eight offerings. It's not easy to do, but it's really worthwhile."

The 2013-2014 schedule includes:

n "Burden of Justice: 1863," Sept. 16-30: The Theater Craft courtroom drama was inspired by an actual military action in Dickson County, Tenn., during the Civil War. It is the only TPAC Education piece that will tour area schools this season; the rest will take place at the TPAC venue.

n "Ballet Hispanico," Oct. 23-25: The production, rescheduled from last year, features dances created by Hispanic choreographers to the work of the world's best-known Latino musicians.

n "Pinocchio," Nov. 4-8: The Theatre Tout a Trac/TPAC Education production premieres in Nashville, adapted from the 1833 Italian novel "The Adventures of Pinocchio" by Carlo Collodi.

n "A Christmas Carol," Dec. 3-10: Williamson County-based Studio Tenn Theatre Company joins the TPAC Education season with the classic Charles Dickens holiday tale of redemption.

n "Leo Lionni's Swimmy, Frederick, and Inch by Inch," Feb. 4-7: Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia, producer of "The Very Hungry Caterpillar," brings this "visually stunning" performance for young children adapted from award-winning books.

n "Fisk Jubilee Singers," Feb. 19: The critically acclaimed choral ensemble, from Nashville's Fisk University, preserves the traditions of the American spiritual.

n "LEO," March 4-7: Montreal's Y2D Productions Inc. offers a piece billed as a "fun and fascinating blend of physical theatre, high technology, and illusions to complement the study of science, technology, engineering and math."

n "Give Yourself a High Five," April 23-25: The interactive performance for youngsters, adapted from TPAC Education's recording, was the recipient of a 2012 Parents' Choice Gold Award.

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