Pittsburgh International Children's Festival moves Downtown

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Frogs big and small will be hopping around the Cultural District in May as Downtown hosts the EQT Pittsburgh International Children's Festival for the first time.

Leaving its most recent location in Oakland, the 28-year-old festival will be held in venues throughout the Cultural District, including the August Wilson Center. In addition to a giant sandbox and pop-up green space, the festival May 14-18 will feature seven theater performances from around the world.

"Thirty years ago, it would have been unbelievably impossible to think about a children's festival Downtown," said J. Kevin McMahon, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, referring to a lack of venues at the time and ongoing development of the Cultural District.

Children's Festival to be held in Downtown venues

The EQT Pittsburgh International Children???s Festival, scheduled May 14-18, will be held at various Cultural District venues this year. (Video by Nate Guidry; 3/13/2014)

The Trust, which has hosted the festival since 2009, announced the line-up Thursday with children from the Brightside Academy wearing frog hats and the festival's mascots, human-sized frogs dressed in street clothes.

"If you couldn't tell, frogs are a big part of what the Children's Festival has become over the years," said Pamela Lieberman, executive director of the Pittsburgh International Children's Theater and Festival.

(Click image for larger version)

The festival's newest attractions include LilyPad Park to be set up at the corner of Eighth Street and Penn Avenue. Free to the public, the park will have artificial turf play areas, a community stage, hands-on activities and food vendors.

Among other activities, there will be a large outside sandbox for children, international short films at the Harris Theater, food trucks, public art installations and a Frog Stop Scavenger Hunt throughout the Cultural District.

The family-friendly event also will offer crossing guards, volunteers and directional signs for safe passage around the area. "We'll help you navigate throughout the festival footprint in the Cultural District," Ms. Lieberman said.

Performance locations include:

  • The August Wilson Center (980 Liberty Ave.) -- Temujin the Storyteller as well as the Nadine Animato Theater Dance Company's "Invisi'BALL," which will turn the theater into a soccer stadium.
  • The Trust Arts Education Center (805 Liberty Ave.) -- three performances: sensory-friendly "Little Steps" in an indoor sandbox as its stage; "Hands Up" by Netherlands native Lejo who uses his hands to portray thousands of characters; and Spain's "Animals," by El Retablo who turns inanimate objects into living things.
  • Bricolage (937 Liberty Ave.) -- Midnight Radio Jr., a live variety show styled after a 1940s radio broadcast.
  • Byham Theater (101 Sixth St.) -- Quebec's Theatre Tout a Trac's production of "Pinocchio."

LilyPad Park's activities also will include ticketed adventures into sensory-friendly "Miracoco." The United Kingdom's Architects of Air return to the festival with a large, inflatable structure that uses natural light to portray a world filled with bright colors. Tickets go on sale today at www.trustarts.org/PGHkids.

Sara Payne: spayne@post-gazette.com. First Published March 13, 2014 12:19 PM

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