10/21/02
The Chicago Humanities Festival
    by John Cech

One of the truly exciting celebrations of the work that is produced for and by children and young people will be taking place in Chicago over the next two weeks. It's the Children's Festival which runs in schools in the city from October 26th to November 3rd and is part of the larger, annual Chicago Humanities Festival. The Humanities Festival, which is 13 years old this year, takes place over the first two weeks in November and offers Chicago's stages and podiums to some of the leading creative and intellecutal figures in arts and humanities today.

The Children's Festival will be hosting a similarly distinguished group of presenters this year, including the award-winning author, Jane Yolen, who has been called America's Hans Christian Andersen, because of her prolific outpouring of works, many of which are contemporary fairytales, like Sleeping Ugly, her revisioning of the Sleeping Beauty story, which is perfect for this year's festival theme: "Brains and Beauty." Ms. Yolen will be joined by Vera B. Williams, who both writes and illustrates her joyous picture books, and is one of the very few writers for children today to make the daily struggles of ordinary working people the subjects of her books -- like the moving A Chair for My Mother. The Festival will also be hosting Neil Gaimon, the author of fiction and graphic novels for adults, and of works for children, like The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish and his recently published "gothic" fantasy for children, Coraline, which he will be reading from at the festival.

In the performing arts, the Festival will be staging the Chicago-based theater group, Teatro Vista's," Black Butterfly Jaguar Girl," "Piñata Woman" and "Other Super- hero Girls Like Me" -- five interwoven stories about being a Latina teenager. The Albany Park Theatre Project will showcase their original works about "growing up female in Chicago" and offering workshops about how to transform real experiences into theatrical ones. Harpist and composer Deborah Henson-Conant and the Fulcrum Point New Music Project will be performing her "Frog Princess." And there's much, much, much more: world-class puppet theater and fresh poetry, amazing storytelling and premiers of animated films from the National Film Board of Canada, and a special tribute to the author, Richard Peck. The tickets are reasonable -- in fact, they are free to teachers and students -- and even if it's chilly, Chicago will be warmed by Festival and the energies of all these many talented people.

For more about the Chicago Humanities Festival and the Chicago Children's Festival, please see their website: www.chfestival.org

Copyright 2002 © John Cech

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Monday, 28-Oct-2002 21:04:32 EST


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