Voices of the South director Jerre Dye's desire to start a children's theater festival springs from an unlikely place: the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland.
"The Fringe Festival used to be all cutting-edge, in-your-face theater," says Dye. "But over the years you started seeing more strollers. And then more children's shows. And then the children's shows were all sellouts. They were selling tickets hand over fist." Voices of the South's first Memphis Children's Theatre Festival opens on Friday, May 26th, at TheatreWorks and runs through Sunday, May 28th. The festival features Voices of the South performing Characters, Creatures, and Clowns, based on the work of Memphis choreographer Susan Chrietzberg. The extraordinary Wood & String Puppet Theatre based out of Centerville, Tennessee, will also be on hand to perform Out of the Mist ... a Dragon, and Memphis' National Educational Theatre will perform Beauty and the Beast. The festival will include mask, puppet, and music workshops, and a silent auction will be held, allowing festival attendees to bid on a special command performance of one of Voices of the South's acclaimed children's theater productions. Workshops are free, individual tickets for adults start at $7, and a weekend pass costs $18.
"We want to see this grow," Dye says. "We knew the first year would be small, but this could become an international festival."
Memphis Children's Theatre Festival, Friday, May 26th-Sunday, May 28th. For more information, go to www.voicesofthesouth.org or call 726-0800.