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Children’s theater shows coming to library

Beginning this weekend at the Mount Airy Library will be the first of five children’s theater performances from Bright Star Touring Theatre company thanks to grant funding from the North Carolina Arts Council and the Friends of the Library.

Known for performances which are ready to be put up almost anywhere, a stage is not needed for these troubadours, the troupe will be presenting shows on Saturdays through May.

“We have five performances by Bright Star Touring Theatre coming up,” library manager Rana Southern explained. “We asked for $1,362.50 to fund five different programs, and we were awarded a grant from the arts council.”

“Each applicant had to submit an application detailing goals, intended audiences, the format of the project and activities involved,” she said. All of these events are provided with grants and matching grants from The Arts Council and The Friends of the Mount Airy Public Library.

“I have seen Bright Star performances when I worked in the school system and we have had them at the library for summer learning programs in the past,” Southern said.

“They always do a good job. They bring history and books alive. They interact with audience members and are very energetic.”

She said all five performances will be held Saturdays at 11 a.m. and will be at the library, either in the multipurpose room or the main area of the library.

Coming in February the library will be celebrating “Bring Your Child to the Library” on Saturday, Feb. 4. She said, “It’s a way to get your kids out of the house and away from electronic distractions. It also reinforces the importance of reading, building better reading habits, learning responsibility (of returning books) and making memories.”

Southern said the first show is about African Folktales. “Folktales are a fun way to get kids reading. The Anansi stories and pourquoi (why) tales were some of my favorites growing up. Not only are they short stories, but they are fun and can spark the interest of reading.”

In recognition of Black History Month, the second show of the month will feature the life of baseball legend and Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson, who broke the color barrier in baseball.

“I feel that is important for children to learn that adversity can be overcome, if you work hard. Kids need to hear from different voices to learn that everyone is an equal and that we need to work together to live peacefully and fruitfully,” she said.

“Jackie Robinson made my success possible. Without him, I would never have been able to do what I did,” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said of the impact Robinson’s accomplishments had on him.

To receive the grant, the library needed to choose activities reflecting diversity. She said they addressed that by choosing topics such as Robinson during Black History Month.

In March, for Women’s History Month, the performance will be called “We Can Do It” and will focus on famous women in history. “I feel strongly about women’s history. I want little girls to be empowered and know that they can be anything they want to be and also to learn about the history of the woman to be treated equally,” Southern explained.

Earth Day falls in April, so “Gus Goes Green” will present a show about the three R’s: recycle, reduce, reuse. With ever-increasing understanding of the relationship between humans and the health of the planet she said educating the next generation can have a lasting impact. “We need to take care of our Earth. We need to recycle, reuse and reduce in order to have a beautiful and healthy planet.”

And in May it would seem as good a time as any for the Mad Hatter and company to visit Mayberry and share “Alice in Wonderland” with the children. Southern called it something of a palate cleanser to lighten up the fare and help promote the summer learning program.

“The mission of The Northwestern Regional Library System is: advancing knowledge, strengthening communities and inspiring people. These plays will advance knowledge by sharing cultures and histories of topics that children may not have heard before,”

She said they will strengthen communities by sharing different points of view from a diverse array of characters. All this will tie into their Summer Learning theme of “All Together Now,” all about kindness, friendship and unity.

Southern said welcoming Bright Star falls in line with their mission. “We will inspire people by teaching them about the heroes from the past and show them that they can be and do anything that they set their minds to.”



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