Ottawa International Children’s Festival Review ~ A Chicken, a Street Dance, and a Red Balloon

| June 20, 2013 | 0 Comments


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The Ottawa International Children’s Festival caught my attention a few years ago. I was intrigued by the festival, which brings live children’s theatre from throughout Canada and the world to Ottawa each spring at a reasonable, family friendly price.

The festival runs mainly during the school week to attract the end-of-the-year school field trips, but does have some weekend performances. So, I headed out to the festival with my six-year old son and five-year old niece in tow one Saturday.


The first play we saw was A Sonatina. It featured a live chicken, which immediately caught the attention of the children. The story was simple but interesting enough to keep my attention and to elicit a laugh or two from me. The play concluded with the chicken waving goodbye with his butt, a truly memorable experience for my son. In fact, he told me I had to mention it in this review!


The Evolution of Bboying introduced the audience to the history of the bboy dance form and culture. It took the audience through time to tell the story of bboying with dance and music. The show concluded with members of the audience, both parents and children, being invited on stage to learn a few moves and to show them off. The kids were more enthusiastic than the parents, but a few brave parents did venture on stage.

Our day came to an end with the lyrical play Countries Shaped Like Stars. Simple props – two ladders, two lamps, a couple of spotlights, and strings of holiday lights – were used by the two performers to bring this enchanting, but ultimately tragic story to life. Kids were invited to share jokes during a party scene, the same one in which cookies were handed out to the audience members.

Graffitti wall made up of bricks painted by kids visiting the festival.

Graffitti wall made up of bricks painted by kids visiting the festival.

The small audiences and intimate settings enabled the performers to interact with the audience. The exception to this was the Evolution of Bboying, which took place on a larger stage, but remained interactive. Their expertise in children’s theatre meant the performers took the interruptions from the peanut gallery in stride. It was a great introduction to live theatre for my son and niece.

The festival is best suited to school age kids since many of the shows are age restricted. Young children are not allowed, including babes in arms. The organizers have included a variety of free activities on the grounds that can be enjoyed by younger children. The most unique of these being the musical petting zoo where children had a chance to get their hands on a variety of instruments to try, including trumpets, trombones, and drums. However, these activities cannot be counted to keep the attention of small children for an entire day. Best to send one parent or caregiver with older kids and leave the younger siblings at home.

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