Now in its 47th year, Pumpkin Theatre gets children involved in all aspects of live theater through classes and plays featuring both children and adults.
Kid-friendly plays, like "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" and "Aladdin," entertain school groups and families, teaching children how to be good audience members. Live theater is especially important in an increasingly digital world, says Pumpkin Theatre's producing artistic director, Raine Bode.
"These days, with kids interfacing with screens, we offer something live and interactive," she says. Live theater is so different from passively watching television or playing video games, she says, because the audience's reactions actually influence what happens onstage. Within their roles, actors make slight adjustments to their performances in response to the audience's reactions.
For kids with the drama bug, Pumpkin Theatre's classes, camps and workshops educate children as young as 18 months on the craft of acting. From Mommy and Me, which introduces young children to theater using puppets and movement, to classes like play production and scene study, which delve into more advanced aspects of the theater world, Pumpkin Theatre helps children develop and nurture their interest in drama.
Those classes emphasize the importance of listening — an important skill in acting and also in life.
"Acting is not so much about memorizing lines as it is about becoming a character and listening to the characters around you and reacting," says Bode. "A lot of life has to do with listening and interacting. It's an important life lesson kids can learn — while they're being entertained."
The theater occupied several Baltimore locations before moving in July 2013 to its current home in Owings Mills.
Throughout the moves, the Pumpkin Theatre community continued to strengthen and grow. "We've been around so long that we are a generational theater," says business manager Stacey Needle. "Parents who were brought up here are now taking their children to the theater."