During the weeks before Martin Luther King Day, my childrens' schools always bring attention to the life of Dr. King and the civil rights struggles that have existed and still exist around the world. I'm always appreciative of the effort, but every year I find myself wondering how much of the lessons hold any real meaning. As an adult living in New York in 2013, I find it difficult to truly appreciate Dr. King's teachings. What do I know about being denied my civil rights? I get outraged when the MTA raises the cost of a subway ride or when my child is locked out of a popular after school activity. How much understanding could my nine year old possibly have of the complex phsycological and sociological history of the African American experience?
I've come to learn that when you are trying to impart a greater understanding to your child, there is no better tool than theatre. When we are invited along for the ride, sharing in the dramatized journey of another person is a great way to truly get inside their world.
This weekend, the Vital Theatre Company premiers Show Way, the first show resulting in the company's new incentive to create shows for slightly older kids. With a strong following among NYC parents and kids, Vital Theatre noticed that many of its biggest fans were aging out of their target demographic. That has certainly been the case for us, as my nine year old is no longer interested in Fancy Nancy or Angelina Ballerina. But Show Way promises to appeal to kids over five, and while it may not be directly about the life of DR. Martin Luther King, it is about the African American experience and the civil rights journey in our country as seen through the eyes of a child.
In Show Way, Toshi Georgiana looks for a beloved family heirloom. As she searches, the generations of women who came before her-from slaves who sewed paths to freedom to civil rights marchers-pass on their stories, and teach Toshi to reconnect with the past and celebrate the possibilities of the future.
Based on the Newbery Honor-winning book by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by Hudson Talbott, this new musical, with music and lyrics by Tyrone L. Robinson, a book by Melody Cooper, and direction by Melissa Maxwell, follows one girl in modern-day Brooklyn as she explores her family's past. As seven generations of women pass on the family tradition of the "show way", or a secret quilt to freedom, from slavery to today, they also pass on their strength and determination to be free.
I'll check back in after I've seen the show, but with Martin Luther King weekend coming up in just a few days, this seemed like a good time to let everyone know about a show that stretches the boundries of the kind of family theatre we've previously seen from the Vital Theatre Company.
GET TO THE POINT, MOM!
- SHOW WAY is based on the Newbery Honor-winning book and follows the journey of a modern-day Brooklyn girl as she explores her family's civil rights journey.
- Good for kids ages 6-10, this is the first show from Vital Theatre's new effort to present shows for older kids.
- For more info or to purchase tickets, visit the show's website.
- A good opportunity for parents to learn something too!