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Wirtz Center’s ‘Imagine U Storytime’ returns September 20

Northwestern theater students, faculty and alumni share weekly stories for young audiences online

Alvin Chan presents the kamishibai 'Straw Hat Statues' for Imagine U Storytime
Alvin Chan presents the kamishibai 'Straw Hat Statues' for Imagine U Storytime

Global fairytales from Japan and South Africa and contemporary classics “The Rainbow Fish” and “Frozen,” will mark the return of “Imagine U Storytime,” the online storytelling series presented by the Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts and the department of theater at Northwestern University.

The weekly video series relaunches Sept. 20 on the Wirtz Center YouTube channel. New videos, each lasting 15 minutes, are posted at 6 p.m. on Sundays, and remain online for streaming.

“Imagine U Storytime” began in April of 2020 as a way to connect community members through the arts during the global pandemic.

According to Rives Collins, department chair of theatre at Northwestern’s School of Communication, the series aims to provide engaging content for families to enjoy together at home, as well as highlight the talented students in the theatre for young audiences training program.

“It has been remarkable to see what our students have created to delight young audiences,” said Lynn Kelso, Imagine U founder and creative mentor. “We are very excited to return to continue to share these artistic gifts with our families in these challenging times.”

Upcoming “Imagine U Storytime” programs include: 

“Straw Hat Statues”
Sunday, Sept. 20, 6 p.m. CDT

Alvin Chan, an MFA directing candidate at Northwestern kicks off the season with “Straw Hat Statues,” a story that uses a traditional Japanese storytelling form called kamishibai or “paper drama.” This story centers around being grateful for what you have and showing compassion for the world around you.

“Abiyoyo”
Sunday, Sept. 27, 6 p.m. CDT

A young boy with a ukulele and his father become unlikely heroes and save the day when a giant attacks a small town. Northwestern student Conor Maduzia (’22) shares “Abiyoyo,” a story-song by Pete Seeger based on a South Africa folktale about magic, music and giants. 

“The Rainbow Fish”
Sunday, Oct. 4, 6 p.m. CDT

Based on the book drawn and written by author and illustrator Marcus Pfister, and translated into English by J. Alison James, “The Rainbow Fish” tells the tale of a very beautiful and proud fish who doesn’t like to share. Featuring Northwestern theatre department students Dugan Kenaz-Mara (’23) and Jessa Shortridge (’22), the tale uses puppetry to demonstrate how the Rainbow Fish learns to share and become a better friend. Download a free activity packet to learn how to make a fish puppet and how to practice sharing at home.

“Frozen: a sing and dance-along adventure”
Sunday, Oct. 11, 6 p.m. CDT

Come relive the magic of “Frozen” in this sing and dance-along adventure. Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's 1844 fairy tale, "The Snow Queen," this contemporary story included favorite songs and characters like Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Olaf and Hans.  Sing and dance along with Northwestern students Alexa Moster (’21), Carson Stewart (’21), Brandon Acosta (’22), Shraman Ghosh (’22), Jenna Sage (’22), Gabrielle Bieder (’23), and Stephen Peng (’24).

“Imagine U Storytime” is inspired by the popular Imagine U performance series geared toward families with young children. The frequently sold-out productions take well-known children’s classics and adapt them for the stage. The program includes an opportunity to meet the cast, participate in workshops, and receive a take-home program with activities related to the production themes.

For more information visit the Wirtz Center website.

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