Tampa, FL

Creative Arts Theatre Company Brings Innovative Performances to Kids

Modern Globe

Still from Suzette Who Set to Sea.Creative Arts Theatre Company

Looking for exciting, original, and live entertainment for kids? The City of Tampa’s Creative Arts Theatre Company tours new performances that are kid-friendly and incredibly creative all year long. Featuring some of the best actors in the Tampa Bay area, this touring troupe has been putting on immersive theatre at local libraries for decades. Find out more about how you can catch a local performance when they come to your part of town.

Over 50 years of fun

Virginia Rivers started the Creative Arts Theatre Company in late 1960s Tampa. Virginia was an employee of the library system and wanted to find interesting ways to tell stories to children. So she started using puppets. Over time, these puppet shows grew more and more elaborate. And while the Creative Arts Theatre Company still uses puppets in their productions, they also utilize live actors and so much more. Sometimes shows come directly from a work of children’s literature. Other times, the performances are simply inspired by children’s stories.

Once the team has a performance ready, they tour the shows to local libraries, community centers, and to schools. All performances at libraries are free to the public. The Company tours four times a year with a new show for each season.

Creating a troupe

Performers are year-round employees of Tampa Parks and Recreation and have a wide variety of backgrounds. Most have a degree in theatre performance or a related field, as all are expected to perform in the shows. However, they pick up a lot of skills along the way. They must also know, or learn, how to design and construct sets, create costumes, and source props.

Related: All USF College of the Arts Performances Are Free this Season

“It’s important for all of the performers to either have or be able to pick up additional skills,” explains Meg Heimstead, Artistic Supervisor of the Creative Arts Theatre Company.

I loved working on the set design for Hare and Tortoise! As my first set design for Creative Arts, it was exciting to see my vision built and realized. This version of the classic fable covered all 4 seasons and one of the challenges was how to show the passage of time. Ashley Whiting, Special Programs Leader III Creative Arts Theatre

Suzette Who Set to Sea

The Company is currently touring with their fall show, Suzette Who Set to Sea. It’s about a girl who lives in a small seaside village where men build boats and women do not. It’s an adventurous, imaginative tale exploring courage, community, and the possibility that sometimes it only takes the actions of a single person to change everything. The show features both shadow puppetry as well as puppets built from umbrellas!

The Company’s winter show, which runs from January and throughout February, is titled Presenting: Super Cat and Reptile Robot. The spring and summer shows are to be determined but will tour April through May and June, respectively.

While it wasn’t exactly drawn from a work of children’s literature, I have enjoyed performing in our current production, SUZETTE WHO SET TO SEA.  I have loved creating the character and working with my fellow artists to bring the story to life and presenting it to our young audiences.  Their faces are so expressive as they watch the tale unfold and see the wonderful puppets that I had the opportunity to create. Jess Glass, Special Programs Leader II Creative Arts Theatre

You can check out where their next performance is here.

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