Local News

Festival 56 receives CFCI grant to support upcoming children’s production

Local organization awarded $5,000 grant

Representatives of the Community Foundation of Central Illinois present a $5,000 grant to members of the Princeton Theater Group outside the Grace Theater in Princeton. Pictured (from left) is Janice Smallwood, Princeton Theater Group board member, Mark Roberts, CEO of Community Foundation of Central Illinois, Sarah Fletcher, director of grants and community initiatives for Community Foundation of Central Illinois. Ron McCuthan, Princeton Theater Group board president, Goldie Rapp, Princeton Theater Group board member, Jane Knapp, Princeton Theater Group board secretary, Amber Harper, Princeton Theater Group board vice president, Kathy Missel, Princeton Theater Group board member and Brian Harper, Americorps volunteer community outreach and promotions coordinator.

The Community Foundation of Central Illinois has awarded a $5,000 grant to Festival 56 in Princeton that will support this summer’s production geared toward younger audiences.

Derived from Mo Williem’s high-interest early reader series, “Elephant and Piggie We Are in a Play!” models lessons in social emotional development while centering around a theme of friendship.

The Elephant and Piggie books have created a new paradigm at a time when the COVID pandemic has had a significant impact on academic and social emotional growth and development in children.

The characters dually model what it looks and sounds like to be a good friend. The on stage actors display expressions and body language that make it easy for young children to infer what the characters are feeling and expand their vocabulary to include words like disappointed, embarrassed, frustrated, excited, anxious, nervous and remorseful.

In the story, the character’s deal with conflicts, crisis, disagree on how to solve a problem and feel pressured to do something they don’t want to do.

Festival 56 has included a theater for young audiences in its season since 2018.

“Exposure to theater at a young age increases empathy; helping children to imagine the lives of others,” Festival 56 board president Ron McCutchan said. “It creates a stronger link to literature and reading. It makes theater and the arts relevant to their lives; in other words, Festival 56 is literally growing our audience.”

As part of the educational outreach funded by the CFCI grant, children will be given a copy of an Elephant and Piggie book to take home following the show.

The performance opens at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, June 24 at the Grace Theater in Princeton. Other performances will be: 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 25; 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 26; 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 28; 9:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Wednesday, June 29; 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 30 and 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 2.

Tickets for “Elephant & Piggie’s We are in a Play!” are $8 for children 10 years old and younger, $15 for students 11 years old or more, $27 for seniors 65 years + and $30 for adults.

Tickets and further information can be found at www.festival56.com. The Grace Theater is located at 316 S. Main St., Princeton.