Events at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s 37th Annual EQT Children’s Theater Festival in the Cultural District

Tickets on sale for eight incredible family shows May 19 – 21, 2023 at  TrustArts.org/CTF

Now in its 37th year, the EQT Children’s Theater Festival, a production of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, continues to foster imagination through high-quality professional theater performances from around the world. This year’s featured arts groups and performers hail from Australia, Canada, France, Madagascar, Japan, United Kingdom, and the United States. 

2023 Featured Events:

The Gruffalo | Byham Theater | Tall Stories | United Kingdom

Join Mouse on a daring adventure through the deep, dark wood in Tall Stories’ magical, musical adaptation of the classic picture book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. While searching for hazelnuts, Mouse meets the cunning Fox, the eccentric old Owl, and the high-spirited Snake. Will the story of the terrifying Gruffalo save Mouse from ending up as dinner for these hungry woodland creatures? After all, there’s no such thing as a Gruffalo – is there?

A much-loved show that’s toured Britain and the world, The Gruffalo now comes to the Byham Theater to bring songs, laughs, and monstrous fun for children aged 3+ and their grownups! Age Recommendations: Best for ages 3 and up

It’s Okay to Be Different | Byham Theater | Mermaid Theater of Nova Scotia | Canada

It’s Okay to Be Different, based on the classic stories of bestselling author Todd Parr, explores important and timely subjects with his signature blend of playfulness and sensitivity. Join us for three stories full of color, wonder, and fun as Mermaid Theater of Nova Scotia blends innovative puppetry techniques with playful original music to demonstrate how to be kind to others, the world around us, and ourselves!

Age Recommendations: Best for ages 3 to 7 years 

Buoyant SEA | Trust Arts Education Center, Peirce Studio | Hiawatha Project, presented in partnership with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust | USA

In “Buoyant Sea,” a new show from the acclaimed theater-making company, Hiawatha Project, young children sing and splash together with their grownups in a “water-table-play” about the joy of togetherness. Come along with the ever-exuberant character of MC, and the timid yet wise character of CC, as they row together through misty rivers and explore the icy Arctic with story, song, and participatory play. Together this pair of best friends discover that when the world changes around us, like water, we can adapt, flow, and float up again.

*Buoyant SEA takes place in an unconventional setting featuring a large water table with smaller basins that can accommodate 20-25 young children. Audience members should dress comfortably and prepare for lots of fun and some splashing. Grownups and other audience members can sit further back from the stage to observe or if they do not wish to participate in the water play. Age Recommendations: Best for ages 18 months to 4 years with Caregiver 

Hiccup | PNC Theatre at Point Park University’s Pittsburgh Playhouse | Windmill Theatre Co | Australia

It’s a perfect, balmy night in the outback. A sleep-deprived camper, a cheeky quokka, and an emu with a penchant for creating wild inventions awake and discover that a koala has come down with a stubborn and ear-shatteringly loud case of the hiccups. The three embark on an epic journey throughout the night that sees them frantically eat, sing, and invent their way toward a cure before sunrise. 

Brought to the USA by Australia’s Windmill Theatre Co. and the designer of Bluey’s Big Play, Hiccup is a hilarious rocking musical extravaganza about working together, finding friendship, and how to – once and for all – stop the hiccups. Age Recommendations: Best for ages 3 to 9 years 

A Letter for Elena | Highmark Theatre at Point Park University’s Pittsburgh Playhouse | A coproduction of Le Petit Théâtre de Sherbrooke & La [parenthèse] / Christophe Garcia | Quebec & France

On a summer morning in the countryside, Frank, Lucy, and Aïcha find a multitude of letters on the side of the road, left there just for them. There are messages from everyone except Elena, their best friend and the fourth of the gang. She remained silent for a reason they could not explain themselves. There had to be a letter from her, and they needed to find it!

Throughout their research, Frank, Lucy, and Aïcha reveal to us, step by step, the words of a whole town saying goodbye: those of a little brother not yet born, with so many questions in his mind, those of a grandfather who’s already in heaven waiting for them, secret words, words that protest, neon words glowing with love. And slowly, they clear up some space.

At the crossroads of theater and dance, A Letter for Elena unfolds itself like a treasure hunt where the path of mourning is slowly drawn, and words take form to say goodbye.

*This show contains bright lights and moments of darkness, including themes of losing a loved one and friendship. Due to the content of this show. Age Recommendations: Tickets will not be sold for children under the age of seven.

Sakasaka | Outdoor Space at 7th Street & Penn Avenue | La Compagnie Zolobe | Madagascar

Sakasaka (meaning “thirsty” in Malagasy) centers on water as its central theme. In this wordless physical comedy, three clowns use the poetry of motion to convey an entertaining story of trying to drink a glass of water while teaching us the importance of water conservation and scarcity. Laugh out loud and learn important lessons as they take you through a journey of dance, music, splashes, and joy! Age Recommendations: Best for ages three and up 

Origami Tales | Outdoor Space at 7th Street & Penn Avenue | Kuniko Yamamoto | Japan 

Welcome to the infinite world of paper folding, Origami! Mythological character masks & puppets, amazing flowers, and a six-foot-long dragon – all made from Origami – set the stage while storyteller Kuniko shares heartfelt stories from ancient Japan. With Origami, music, and audience participation, you will explore a magical entry into the East. Age Recommendations: Best for ages 3 and up 

Mr. Messado’s School of Magic for the Young and Young at Heart | Liberty Magic | USA

Forget everything you know about magicians pulling rabbits out of top hats. Mr. Messado brings a fresh new take on the age-old art of prestidigitation in Mr. Messado’s School of Magic for the Young and Young at Heart. Time-tested through thousands of performances worldwide and full of stunning magic and clean comedy, this 60-minute spectacular will fill both teens and adults with wonder! Get to know the mister behind the magic and the rabble-rousing raconteur behind the cape as superstar Mr. Messado engages your family with magic words, interactive tricks, and heartfelt memories in this hilarious performance about a love for entertainment and storytelling. Age Recommendations: Best for ages eight and up 

Other Free Activities:

Activities long 7th Street and Penn:

Activities at Trust Oasis

Activities at EQT Plaza

The Festival also has pre-show and post-show events at the Byham Theater and the courtyard near the Pittsburgh PlayhouseKidsPlay in Market Square, screenings of NYICFF Kid Flicks at the Harris Theater, free exhibits at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Galleries, and more! 

More information on the EQT Children’s Festival is available at: TrustArts.org/CTF

Categories: Show Previews

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