A world of theater for children

Now that the big kids are going away for the summer, it's time for the little ones to have fun. And fun -- along with drama, adventure, myth, music, crafts and food -- is the order of the day at the 14th annual Philadelphia International Theatre Festival for Children, which returns to the Annenberg Center May 20-24.

Five indoor theaters will feature nine different productions from performers and companies around the world, with a special focus on Montreal artists in keeping with the center's year-long Montreal Festival.

Highlighting the indoor performances is a world-premiere performance of "new circus" from Montreal's École Nationale de Cirque, one of the world's most prestigious training schools for circus performers. "New circus" has no animals, but lots of physical humor, theatrical clowning, and athleticism.

Other indoor performances include "Typhoon in the Kingdom of Dragons," a play from Montreal's Theatre des Confettis about a storyteller who manages to conjure a water-breathing dragon; puppetry from German master Bernd Ogrondik and his Alchemilla Puppetworks (photo above); American Indian flutist and hoop dancer Kevin Locke; Tuyo, a Montreal ensemble that plays music on instruments of their own invention; blues guitarist and storyteller Guy Davis; and Speeltheater Holland's "Nicky, Somewhere Else," a play that combines puppets and live actors to tell the story about a boy's search for his missing twin brother.

Meanwhile, outdoors, the Playworks and Stageworks spaces will offer a constantly changing variety of jugglers, storytellers, musicians and craft activities, and an outdoor cafe offers a variety of fun foods and picnic space.

  • PHILADELPHIA INTERNATIONAL THEATRE FESTIVAL FOR CHILDREN: Wednesday, May 20 through Sunday, May 24. Indoor performances at the Annenberg Center, 3680 Walnut St.; International House, 3701 Chestnut St.; and the Iron Gate Theater, 3700 Chestnut St. Tickets $8 each for the first show, $4 each for additional shows. For ticket info and a complete schedule of performances, call the Annenberg Center box office at 898-6791.