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Pittsburgh Cultural Trust launches new Bridge Theater Series

Kate Pendlebury
September29/ 2015

For youth aging out of the Citizens Bank Children’s Theater Series, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is about to launch an exciting new program of year-round theatrical performances. The new EQT Bridge Theater Series is geared to 7 to 15 year olds, but the unusual, often abstract, multi-layered performances will appeal to older theater-goers too.

“What makes the Bridge Theater Series unique is the intimate scale of the work, its contemporary topics, interactivity, technology and level of adventurousness,” says Pamela Komar, executive director of the Children’s Theater Series and Festival.

While the first performance is entitled Alice in Wonderland, it bears little resemblance to Lewis Carroll’s canonic tale–or, indeed, to its multifarious spin-offs. As practitioners of object theater, the actors use abstract puppetry, animating found objects to perform a story barely linked to Carroll’s plot. Alice in Wonderland will show at the Trust Arts Education Center from November 5th through November 7th.

The second performance is perhaps even more unusual. In TetrisPlus, by Dutch physical theater group, Arch8, dancers execute moves based on those of the geometric pieces in the vintage computer game, Tetris. The piece is interactive, fresh and technology based–it doesn’t look quite like dance, or like theater, in the traditional sense. TetrisPlus debuts on January 22nd and 23rd, 2016, at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture.

The fast-paced Bridge performances are designed on a relatively small scale, allowing for year-round showings. Komar encourages unaccompanied grownups to attend too. “What makes good work for children is good for adults too,” she says. “It doesn’t have to be dumbed down. It can be very intelligent, with multiple layers.”

Bridge Theater also aims to incorporate children’s ideas into its programming. A group of eight theater enthusiasts from the target age range has been identified to provide feedback on this season’s plays and advise for next season.

Whereas productions for the younger Children’s Theater Series are launched in the Cultural District before travelling to the suburbs, all Bridge productions will take place Downtown. Shows for the younger crowd tend to be based on well-known fairytales, often with a large musical component, but the Bridge Series offers a schedule of material that is likely to be appealingly unfamiliar.

Shows are all about one hour long, with no intermission. A four-show pass costs $35, while individual tickets are $10.50 in advance and $12 at the door.

Featured photo: TetrisPlus by Arch 8.  Photo courtesy of TetrisPlus.

Kate Pendlebury

A logophile and joker, Kate Pendlebury has a PhD in Children's Literature. She would like to climb trees, but her energetic and gregarious toddler requires that she keep both feet on the ground.