Performing arts for youth go on display in Pittsburgh

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Children and teens of all ages will be able to see theater, music, physical comedy, dance, puppetry and other performances when the International Performing Arts for Youth Showcase 2014 comes to town this week to present 18 productions.

The performances Wednesday through Saturday mark the third time since the first showcase in 1979 that the Philadelphia-based organization has chosen Pittsburgh for its annual days of performance arts.

More than 450 professional artists, agents, managers, presenters and students from around the world will be attending the showcase -- presented in Downtown's Cultural District -- to share resources, participate in professional development programs and view performances selected through a rigorous jury process. The showcase aims to support the professional community of performing arts for young audiences.

While the productions are scheduled for the showcase attendees, there will be between 10 to 300 tickets available to the public at each of the 18 productions, said Pam Lieberman, executive director of the Pittsburgh International Children's Theater, which is hosting the showcase. The group also hosted earlier visits in 2010 and 1992.

"We invite families in the public to attend," Ms. Lieberman said. Those interested should call the trust's group sales at 412-471-6930 or check the schedule at

The 18 theater pieces are scheduled at different times over the four days so there is no overlap, Ms. Lieberman said.

The productions will offer a lot of engagement.

For example, Theatergroep Kwatta of the Netherlands will perform "Manxmouse: The Mouse Who Knew No Fear" for children 6 and older twice on Friday, at 9:15 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., at the Cultural Trust Arts Education Center, fourth floor. At 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Contra-tiempo of the United States does a dance performance called "Full Still Hungry" for those age 11 to 18 at 7:30 p.m. at the Byham Theater. On Saturday The Escapists of Australia do theater work showing "Boy Girl Wall" for those 15 and older at 9:15 a.m. at the August Wilson Center Theater.

The circus show "Timber," which will be performed for attendees 7 and older by the Cirque Alfonse of Canada at the August Wilson Theater from 9 to 10:30 p.m., Wednesday, will feature three generations of one woodsy Quebecois family. "They replace traditional circus objects with wood," Ms. Lieberman said. "They're using wood throughout the performance. They juggle with axes and perform stunts with lumberjack saws. It's all set to traditional music."

A dance performance that is attractive to attendees 12 and older is Arch8 dance group's "O snap" at noon Friday, also in the August Wilson Center. "O Snap" combines urban dance and contemporary dance, what the showcase calls "a sort of hip-hop tanztheater." The dance is a story about the "landscape of their relationship with each other and with the world."

One show that will be returning to Pittsburgh will be "Pinocchio" by Tout a Trac, a 15-year-old company based in Quebec. It will perform at 8 p.m. Friday at the Byham. The performance will be part of the 2014 Pittsburgh International Children's Festival May 14-18.

Overall, Ms. Lieberman said, the showcase is "my favorite event throughout the year. ... Some of these artists will be invited back and become part of a feature festival."

"This is professional art developed for young audiences," she said. "People think they're coming to see their neighbor kids, but that's wrong. They may be the neighbors' kids, but they have grown up and trained."

Pohla Smith: or 412-263-1228.

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