Brno Family: Taking Children to the Theatre
Photo: “The Nutcracker”. Credit: National Theater Brno, NdB.
I had a proud-parent moment when we purchased tickets for Frozen 2 in late November. It was busy at the counter at Cinema City at Velký Špalíček. The teenage sales clerk checked our reservation, quickly looked up and said to my wife, in Czech: “You know this is in English, right?”
My wife responded: “It’s okay, my kids know both languages.” It wasn’t meant to be a boast.
Nevertheless, a lady standing nearby overheard the conversation and looked at my children with envy. I sensed how she thought through the advantages that English-speaking Czech toddlers will have.
The fact is that there are many local families that have kids who are bilingual. The Frozen 2 screening was 80-percent full. Most of the audience included kids (although there were also teenagers, young adults and Asian tourists). We also happened to sit right behind close family friends.
Local cinema is starting to offer a few screenings of children’s movies in English, with Czech subtitles. That is a great step forward for the local expat community.
But movies are not the only options. The actual theatre also has many kid-friendly performances, even if they speak only English. Narodni divadlo Brno, the National Theatre of Brno, offers many performances specifically for children:
The language of dance is movement, which does not need to be translated. There are two ballets that are listed as “Ballet for children”:
- The Nutcracker, for many people, is an important soundtrack for the holiday season and it is a staple for ballet companies around the world. Brno has 10 performances this season. The remaining dates are Dec. 14, 15, 20, 21 and 28, and Jan. 3 and 4.
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs will be performed on April 15 and 16 and June 1 and 2.
Click here for the full schedule and ticket information, in English.
In Amadeus, the famous movie, one of the low points of Mozart’s life was a performance of his opera, the Magic Flute. The elite (read: the snobby theater-goers) had turned their back on him, despite his legendary talent, and his work was being performed for children, who were rolling in the aisles and loving every second.
More than two centuries later, culture and children are different; nevertheless, opera is nothing if not a powerful and emotional force that you feel. You can see for yourself if it works. A variation of that very Mozart opera — Papageno Plays the Magic Flute — will be performed on Feb. 29 and April 4.
Additionally, there are three other operas that are listed as “Opera for children” by NdB:
- The Devil and Kate will be performed Dec. 22 and 26, March 4, and May 19 and 20. This is an opera written by Antonín Dvořák, a Czech composer, so it may be a good cultural touchstone for parents, too.
- Puss in Boots will be performed Dec. 21, March 5 and 6, and June 18 and 19.
- Ferdy the Ant will be June 12, 14, 20, 21 and 26.
Click here for specific information about Opera for children.
There are other options that come around from time to time. Large touring shows are often English- and family-friendly, too. There are also two local theatres for kids, which have Czech performances:
- Polárka Theatre (Tučkova 34) has been entertaining children as young as 3 since 1999. Click here for its English-language website.
- Divadlo Radost (Bratislavská 216/32) also entertains children. Click here for its English-language website.
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Taking a child to the theatre may seem like an impossible task that is only asking for a public humiliation. Maybe the theatre experience is not for some kids.
However, from personal experience, it may turn out well. My very active daughter, when she was 3, actually sat and enjoyed the entire production of the Nutcracker, whereas she had lasted only the first period of an exhibition Kometa game.
There is something about dressing up and participating in a social event that helps children learn about the world into which they are growing.
Kids get theatre performances in pre-school. Bringing them to Janáček Theatre, for example, offers perspective.
It is, at least, worth a try.
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