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Tempe Children’s Theatre Troupe Goes International

June 4, 2010

TEMPE, Ariz. - Tempe-based Childsplay is going international. The non-profit professional theatre company has performed for young audiences and their families across Arizona for 33 years. A third national tour is also planned. But this fall, managing director Steve Martin says a Childsplay company will perform for the first time outside the U.S., staging its original production of Rock, Paper, Scissors in Holland and Belgium.

"It doesn't have any words. It's kind of a silent piece with kind of clowning and things like that in it. So, it has an international language because it's all about movement and body and performance. So, it makes it easier to do on an international basis."

Martin says Childsplay actors bring their own sets, props, costumes, lighting and sound system to challenging venues like school gymnasiums and cafeterias, where workers may be banging pots and pans preparing lunch.

"But, I've taken donors to those performances, and at the end of them, they have tears in their eyes and look at me and say 'I can't believe I'm sitting in a school cafeteria and you've moved me to tears.' And, we do that."

Arizona's arts and cultural groups have been hurt during the economic downturn by reduced grants and donations, and Childsplay is no exception, says Martin. But, ticket sales are stronger than ever, as is support from the schools, he adds.

"They've continued, even through these economic challenges, to bring whole school groups to the Tempe Center for the Arts and to book us in on these statewide tours. Our statewide touring is booked nearly to capacity."

During its nine-month season, Childsplay does 700 performances, sometimes staging four different productions at the same time. Next season's 17-week national tour will visit Chicago, New York, Florida and California. In addition to performances at the Tempe Center for the Arts, Childsplay goes on the road each year to some 250 schools in 40 Arizona communities.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ