Chi Children's Theatre Red Kite Round Up Announces New Run 4/14-5/22

Here's great April World Autism Awareness Month news for Chicago-area families with children on the autism spectrum - Chicago Children's Theatre will continue presenting Red Kite Round Up, its one-of-a-kind theatrical experience tailored specifically to the needs of children with autism, with new performances just added April 14-May 22, 2011, at a new North Shore venue, the Winnetka Community Center.

Following strongly-attended runs at Chicago's Millennium Park in February and NorthShore University HealthSystem, Evanston Hospital, in March, this extension and change of venue means children on the autism spectrum ages 5-14 will continue to have the opportunity to experience Chicago Children's Theatre's immersive, simulated camping adventure.

The Winnetka Community Center is conveniently located at 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka, within easy walking distance of the Winnetka Metra stop on the Union Pacific North Metra line. Red Kite Round Up performance times are Thursday and Friday at 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and 12 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday at 10 a.m., 11:15 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 each.

To keep Red Kite Round Up intimate and focused, and to better tailor each show to the special needs of each child attending, the number of tickets sold for each performance is limited to 10 children with accompanying adults for each of them, plus capacity for 10 observers. Thus, tickets to Red Kite Round Up are limited and advance reservations are required. For more information visit www.theredkiteproject.org to fill out an application, and a Red Kite Round Up concierge will contact you soon.

Red Kite Cast Member and Highland Park Native Daniel Eichengreen Set to Continue "Stealing the Show"

Continuing his run with Red Kite Round Up is 22-year-old Highland Park resident and actor Daniel Eichengreen, who has appeared in Red Kite Round Up performances in Chicago and Evanston since February. Eichengreen - a young adult on the autism spectrum himself - provides the jokes throughout the campfire adventure.

"Daniel is a very special part of Red Kite Round Up," said Jacqueline Russell, artistic director of Chicago Children's Theatre. "We are thrilled he is continuing his participation in Red Kite Round Up and sharing his unique perspective and sense of humor with audiences on the North Shore."

Additional cast members include Jesse Fisher (Cowgirl Ruby), John Francisco (Park Ranger Bob) and Ashley Winson (Penny). Designers are Luftwerk - Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero, projections; Andrea Everman, puppets; and Susan Kaip, set, costumes and props.

Red Kite Round Up: How This One-of-a-Kind Theater Experience Works

Imagine a live theatre experience in which actors guide children on their own personal journey complete with chasing butterflies, hiking and camping under the stars. Such a show would be special for anyone - but it's especially memorable for children with autism.

"There are really not words to describe our experience at Red Kite! I was brought to tears watching my son experience camping, singing, make believe and humor in a way he would find magical," commented Andrea K., a parent of a child who previously attended Red Kite Round Up. "Usually, the world is too loud, too bright and just plain hard to maneuver. So, to have this experience where I could just sit back and watch him smile, participate and enjoy drama and pretend play was magical."

Red Kite Round Up tailors each performance specifically to the unique needs of children affected by autism and offers a multi-sensory camping adventure that encourages children to move, laugh, talk and sing - not sit still and keep quiet. Unlike most traditional live theater performances, at Red Kite Round Up children are encouraged to participate in the show and interact with the artists. The actors are specially trained to be responsive to each child's individual needs as they guide him or her through the world of Red Kite. Plenty of inviting and stimulating experiences await all children, no matter how they want to participate.

After filling out an application on the Red Kite Round Up's website, each child and adult is sent a detailed Social Story - a preview of the show that walks children through the experience of attending, from arriving at the location to the people they'll meet to the adventure itself. The parents' Social Story serves as a guide for prospective attendees so they can gauge the appropriateness of the experience for their children and minimize potential anxiety.

Upon arrival, visitors to the Red Kite Round Up are greeted by caring Chicago Children's Theatre staff and artists whose mission it is to make each child feel comfortable, safe and welcome.

Registration Now Open for Camp Red Kite

In addition to Red Kite Round Up, children with autism can explore this year's Camp Red Kite, a summer arts camp tailored specifically to the unique interests and needs of children on the autism spectrum. Camp Red Kite dates are July 1-29, Monday though Friday from 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., and the location is Agassiz Elementary School, 2851 N. Seminary Ave., Chicago. To register or for more information, visit www.theredkiteproject.org/campredkite.html

Reminder: April is World Autism Awareness Month

Chicago Children's Theatre's Red Kite Round Up kicks off in Winnetka on April 14, in the middle of World Autism Awareness Month. To learn more, www.autismspeaks.org.

Behind the Scenes

The Red Kite Project is the brainchild of Jacqueline Russell, who co-founded the company in 2006 and has selected the work for each of Chicago Children's Theatre's five seasons. For 13 years, Russell worked as an artist in residence at Agassiz Elementary School teaching drama to two autism-specific classrooms through CAPE (Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education). Russell's commitment to serving children with special needs led her to participate in a special hands-on workshop with London's Oily Cart company in the summer of 2006. Through continuing dialogue with this unique organization - which exclusively focuses on serving children with complex disabilities - Chicago Children's Theatre developed the framework for Red Kite Project, which couples the work of both companies.

Chicago Children's Theatre's Red Kite Project recently was featured in the documentary video, "The Red Kite Project," now available on amazon.com. For review copies, contact Kerry Shaw Brown, director and partner, Rascals and Rogues, at kerry@rascalsrogues.com or 773.857.7800.

Red Kite Round Up at Winnetka Community Center was made possible by: The Pritzker Pucker Family Foundation and the Lisa and John Pritzker Family. Other supporters of the Red Kite Project include Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust, The Blowitz-Ridgeway Foundation and The Field Foundation. United Airlines is the Official Airline Sponsor and ComEd is the Official Lighting Sponsor.

Company Overview

Since its inception in 2006, Chicago Children's Theatre has demonstrated a passionate commitment to creating meaningful educational programs for Chicago-area youth and families. Such programs have included collaborations with the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Chicago Park District, Chicago Public Library, Chicago Public Schools, Children's Memorial Hospital and Chicago Children's Museum, to name a few. Chicago Children's Theatre also offers Student Matinee and Scholarship programs, which furnish underserved students and schools with deeply discounted or complimentary tickets to its productions. To date, these programs have reached over 10,000 children in Chicago.

For more information about Chicago Children's Theatre visit chicagochildrenstheatre.org or call 773.227.0180.

 




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