Youth Matinee Series to begin in October


Courtesy of the Iowa State Center

Students interact with ISU Symphony members at an instrument “petting zoo,” where students observe the instruments close-up as part of the Youth Matinee Series program.

Melissa Garrett

This October, the Iowa State Center will begin the 2014-15 Youth Matinee Series to promote “performing arts for young minds” as it continues to host several different theater companies.

Many shows are from the East Coast with many familiar literary characters, from Curious George and Harry the Dirty Dog to Percy Jackson and Scout Finch.

Attracting roughly 15,000 Iowa students from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade, the Youth Matinee Series, funded by the Martha-Ellen Tye Performing Arts Institute, offers students an outlet for creative expression and education by bringing national theater touring companies to the Ames community.

“The socialization aspect of coming to the theater is a big deal,” said Sara Compton, outreach coordinator for the Iowa State Center. “It’s bringing the world of pretend and the world of school together.”

While more plays focus on early literacy and early elementary kids, experiencing the theater is used as a learning technique for students of all ages, as music and pneumonic lessons plant the seed in the minds of young viewers.  

“There’s a lot of detail work that goes on — getting the artists on stage and getting the schools signed up to come to the show — and it just all comes to a very happy moment when they walk in, so that’s really fun,” said Patti Cotter, development and sponsorship manager for the Iowa State Center. “It really is a change for children whose families might not come to the arts … to get a chance to see their beloved story come to life on stage.”

With targeted performances for different age groups, the Iowa State Center promotes an educational curriculum for the Youth Matinee Series by encouraging youths to come to the theater for an alternate way of learning.

“Kids learn in so many different ways, so this opportunity reaches kids that otherwise might not respond to traditional methods [of learning],” Compton said. “It catches people and cradles them and keeps them from being disenchanted because it reaches those creative people. It’s like sneaking in your vegetables.”

All seats are available for $4 in advance and $5 on the day of the show. Feature shows are approximately 60 minutes in length at Stephens Auditorium, unless otherwise stated. Students enrolled in the National School Lunch Program are exempt from admission fees.

All shows except for the ISU Symphony and “To Kill a Mockingbird” have performances at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. The ISU Symphony and “To Kill A Mockingbird” only perform at 10 a.m.

The 2014-15 Youth Matinee Series performances are as follows:

“We the People”: Oct. 24

“Harry the Dirty Dog”: Nov. 12

“Let’s Go Science!”: Feb. 19

“The Lightning Thief”: Feb. 23

ISU Symphony: Feb. 26

“Curious George”: March 2

“Jack and the Beanstalk”: March 30

“To Kill a Mockingbird”: April 3

“Fly Guy and Other Stories”: April 27

For more information on shows and student registration, visit