PAPAYA is a new cultural organization committed to bringing performances of the highest artistic caliber to families in Philadelphia. We like original, thought-provoking entertainment that people of all ages can experience and enjoy together. Hand-picked from across the globe specifically for young audiences, our shows will ignite children's imaginations, open their eyes to the world around them and encourage them to fall in love with the excitement of live performance.
We believe that more is more! We are a network organization. We partner with acclaimed Philadelphia arts institutions, to expand the amount and variety of programs offered to young audiences in our region so there will be more innovative family shows for everyone. We want the young people of Philadelpia and their families to become passionate, life-long arts goers! So we team up with others who share our aspirations.
The mission of PA Performing Arts for Young Audiences (PAPAYA) is to create and present performance experiences of high imagination for our young audience members - along with their families, teachers and friends - to ignite curiosity and creativity in their hearts and minds long after they leave the theatre.
In our third season, we continue our collaboration with the Painted Bride Art Center with the International Family Series PAPAYA AT THE BRIDE this Winter/Spring of 2015. Additionally, we are building relationships with companies like InterAct Theatre and Theatre Exile, to develop and co-produce family-centric theatrical works. We are looking forward to co-commissioning our very first work.
The vision for PAPAYA began to unfold in 2005 with two simple questions. Why doesn't Philadelphia have a year-round presence of high-quality family programming? And, why do cities like Seattle, Minneapolis, Washington, D.C. and New York have major institutions and venues dedicated exclusively to family and youth programming while Philadelphia has nothing comparable?
Beginning in 2010, PAPAYA began partnering with with other organizations to present programs. For our first venture we co-presented The Man Who Planted Trees by the Puppet State Theatre Company from Edinburgh, Scotland as part of the University of Pennsylvania's Philadelphia International Children's Festival at the Annenberg Center. We followed up with another Children's Festival offering The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer by the Perth Theatre Company, from Adelaide, Australia in 2013.
Our next partnership was with international Performing Arts for Youth (IPAY) and the Painted Bride Art Center - where we co-presented Pero, or Mysteries of the Night by Speeltheater Holland in 2011.
This blossomed into the 2014 International Family Series PAPAYA at the Bride, co-presented by the Painted Bride and PAPAYA. Our inaugural season featured jaw-dropping Dutch Dance Duets by The Netherlands' Arch 8, Canada's Susanna Hamnett in her riveting one woman show Nearly Lear, and Italy's Compagnia T.P.O.'s multi-media extravaganza BLEU! In addition, PAPAYA was honored to co-present Austrailia's PATCH Theater's production Me and My Shadow as part of the Annenberg Center's 30th Anniversary International Children's Festival. As part of the this presentation, PAPAYA offered our very first audience engagement activitiy - SHADOW TOWN - an interactive shadow playground created by performance-maker and educator Sebastienne Mundheim.
In 2015 Sebastienne Munheim joined the PAPAYA team to create post-show activities after each show in our PAPAYA Lab. A hallmark of the PAPAYA Experience, the Lab brought together Philadelphia-based artists to work with the international artists in our series to animate the theater space, inviting audiences to create their own response to the work on stage. The 2015 PAPAYA at the Bride series featured Canada's Evalyn Parry in her inventive and funny cabaret SPIN, brilliant shadow puppetry and big-hearted storytelling with Het Filiaal's Miss Ophelia from The Netherlands, and non-stop thrill ride of spoken word, hip-hop and comedy with The Mayhem Poets from the United States.
Our 2016 PAPAYA at the Bride Series was intimate, international, and fearless. The season kicked-off with NIE’s The End of Everything Ever, a powerful piece inspired by true stories of theKindertransport, the UK’s rescue of Jewish children from Germany before WWII. Straight from a Broadway run at the New Vic, artists from the Czech Republic, Norway, and the UK brought this tale of hope and survival to life with a six-piece band, raucous comedy and stirring drama.
“The tension between the humor/music and the very serious, terrible topic was incredible… it didn’t seem possible -- but it was amazing!” - Philadelphia Educator.
After the show, youth, teachers and families worked in small groups with NIE company members and our PAPAYA animators to discuss themes from the show including survival, migration, and refugee experiences. Discussion was followed by workshops encouraging students to interpret the work and integrate their own experiences.
"It reminds me of when I had to leave my dad behind in the Dominican Republic and me and my mom and my sister came to America.” shared a student from Young Scholars Kenderton.
Next, Scotland’s Red Bridge Arts shared their award-winning theater work Titus. In this compelling, one-man show, we meet a 10 year-old boy on the roof of his school. He uses his imagination, humor and lyrical storytelling to overcome the pain of loss, love and alienation. Our post-show LAB experience moved from intimate dialogue, to monologue writing workshops, to performance experiments. In an exciting long distance collaboration, students from Welsh Valley Middle School willl share their written work with Titus performer Gavin Jon Wright, who plans to perform student work via video from Scotland.