There are many opportunities for children in Champaign-Urbana to get on stage, but there’s still plenty of room for more. Last weekend, the newly formed Soul Miners Children’s Theatre Company debuted its first production, “Horton The Elephant,” a script loosely based on the Dr. Seuss story, Horton Hears A Who!
Horton The Elephant is children’s theatre for children, said founder Helen Katz. The performers range from ages 6 to 12, with the intended audience being of the same age for this production. The final two shows are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday (see below for dates, times and ticket prices).
Soul Miners Children’s Theatre Company is based on a program out of New York City, The Children’s Theatre Company, that blends character education and interfaith education with theatrical education. It is strongly influenced by the Ba’hai religious philosophy — its founders are Ba’hai — but children don’t have to be of the Ba’hai faith to participate. The first class of 11, which started meeting in February, includes Jewish, Muslim, Ba’hai and Christian students.
“Kids are going to learn that there is one God and God has sent many teachers and all these teachers are saying the same thing,” Katz said. “It it is important that anyone who is sending their children to this program agrees with that.”
Katz has been around theater most of her life in various capacities, but decided she wanted to do theater “that meant something.” She and her daughter founded Soul Miners, although they have hired acting instructors to help the children as well.
“It’s a different way of doing theatre,” she said.
The program is more than theater; it focuses on teaching virtues that are common to all religions. After performances of Horton The Elephant, the student actors participate in a Q & A with the audience, and talk about the virtues they’ve learned. Each week since February, the students have learned about one of the 12 virtues exemplified in the play, including faithfulness, determination, patience, and responsbility.
“If parents take their kids to see ‘Horton’ it will provide them with a great opportunity for family discussion about the nature of qualities (i.e., virtues) like gentleness, patience, responsibility and faithfulness; how they are portrayed in the Horton story; and how their kids might incorporate them into their own lives,” Katz said.
Horton The Egg will be performed at 7 p.m. Saturday, June 5 at King School in Urbana, and 3 p.m. Sunday, June 6 at the Baha’i Center in Urbana. TAdmission at the door will be $7.00 for adults, $5.00 for students, and $3.00 for children 6 and under. Check the Soul Miners website for more information about the shows and plans for the next term in the fall.