Places to Go - Three Great Art Experiences for Kids - Pirates of Penzance, A Family Sculpture Making Class, and Portrait Making


1. Family Sculpture Classes at the Artisphere

On Sunday afternoon, F and I headed over to Arlington's Artisphere for a family sculpture making class. F loves art, so I assumed she'd love creating with me, but when we arrived the instructors announced we would be working with wire, Calder-style. "I hate wire", F stated. Ugh. So she tried, then she cried. Luckily Peter Krsko (one of our instructors) SAVED THE DAY. He looked at her drawing, he listened to her ideas, and he helped her sculpt her vision. She smiled, she laughed, she added more details, and, finally, she proclaimed herself "an artist." Success!!

If you're interested, another class takes place on Sunday, July 29th, tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for kids. Children over 2 years of age are invited to attend, but personally I'd recommend the class for kids aged 4 and up. Toddlers with wire could be a little iffy ("you'll poke your eye out!"). Click here for more information.

The Artisphere also offers a Plushie Design class for children and families on August 19th and September 9th. I'm hoping to attend, as both the girls would LOVE to design their own stuffed animal.

F's Review (Age 6.5)
- At first, I was pretty bad but then I started getting the hang of it. And I really started liking it. The teachers were really nice. After the class we walked around [the Artisphere] and I really liked looking at the sculptures.


2. Create a Portrait at the Artisphere - FREE!!!

After our art class, F and I wandered around the Artisphere for awhile. Have you been yet? This place is AMAZING!! Sort of like a small, non-intimidating, somewhat interactive art museum (with lots of comfy chairs). We checked out wonderful sculptures and video art, then we headed to the mezz gallery where an interactive/display project is ongoing until August 18th. In the exhibit, the artist, Kevin Krapf, invites visitors to use a double-sided table to create simultaneous portraits with friends. Visitors can then hang up their art for display. The artist will select some of the drawings as inspiration for his paintings. Art supplies and paper are provided. I think kids would love this project. So if you've been looking for an opportunity to check out the Artisphere, this is it!!

Further, a nature area/bridge is accessible through the building - a great way to view the Rosslyn skyline while checking out some beautiful flowers.

The Artisphere is open:
Wed-Fri 4 pm - 11 pm
Saturday noon - 11 pm
Sunday noon - 5 pm.

Free parking is available after 5 pm and all day on weekends. SO GO!!!


3. Encore Theater's Production of The Pirates of Penzance

On Friday night, the girls and I attended Encore's production of the Pirates of Penzance at Thomas Jefferson Theater. Usually Encore's productions feature a cast composed entirely of child actors. This play was a little different in that adults and children both appeared on stage and the two lead roles were played by seasoned stage actors.

Regarding production quality, I cannot say enough good things - the singing and dancing was superb, nothing "amateur" about it. As were the costumes and sets (especially the boat that actually moves!). A grand spectacle. My only (minor) complaint being that the acoustics of TJ's theater are not the best (it was often hard to understand the lyrics).

Regarding the play itself, I know it is currently trendy to revive these old plays (the original production premiered in 1879). And I know I seem like a PC stick-in-the-mud but they just seem so sexist and dated. The first act of the play involves the main character yelling at his nurse for not being pretty enough, yes it's somewhat funny, but not necessarily child-friendly. Though F did whisper to me "I hate mean boys who only care if a girl is pretty, they'll never be happy because they ignore the important stuff, like love." Luckily, the play includes some modern updates - in particular a HYSTERICAL scene in which the captain laments on modern day politics (the play is worth seeing for this scene alone, I wish I could you-tube it).

Regarding the rest of the plot, the theater recommends the play for children 6 and over and I'd take their recommendation seriously. The whole leap year debacle (the pirate is indentured until his 21st birthday, but since he was born on leap year, that won't happen until he's pretty old) completely went over P's head (I tried to explain it in whispers, but wasn't quite successful).

Anyways, if you can get over hang ups about sexism that passed for comedy in the nineteenth century, the production itself is absolutely beautiful and well worth the price of admission. A gem.

The show runs through next weekend at the following times:

Thursday, July 26 8 pm
Friday, July 27 8 pm
Saturday, July 28 2 pm and 8 pm
Sunday, July 29th 2 pm

Tickets are $10 for children and $15 for adults. Click here for additional information.

F's Review (Age 6.5)
- I liked the play because it was jolly and it told you about the old-fashioned days and ways. I also liked it because the Captain was funny. I really liked the scenery and costumes. And I loved the singing and dancing. I didn't like that the characters didn't come out in costume after the play.

P's Review (Age 5.5)
- I liked that the girls in the play were brave and wore pretty dresses. I didn't like that the main pirate was mean to his maid and only cared about how people looked. I liked the costumes. I also thought the main character really should have understood how his birthday worked.

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