At Arts on the Horizon Theatre Company, they mean it when they say “theater is for everyone.” The interactive theater is the first of its kind in the country for children ages 0 to 6. Entirely nonverbal, the shows instead rely on movement, sound and live music to get kids excited about the show.
Founded in 2009 by Michelle Kozlak, who also serves as the Producing Artistic Director, the goal is to get kids engaged. Kozlak started the company when her son was 2 and she couldn’t find any place that had live theater for a very young crowd. “I’ve been involved in the theater since I was very young” Kozlak says, “and I always wanted this to be a part of my son’s life.”
Arts on the Horizon started doing educational programs in 2010 and produced their first onstage work in 2011. The company has only grown since then, garnering a 2016 Helen Hayes Award nomination for Outstanding Emerging Company.
With four productions slated for this season around the region, it is a busy one for the theater. “This is a big season for us because this is the first time we are producing three brand new shows and we are going for a big age range.”
The shows are designed with the comfort of kids in mind. “We are very much about making everyone feel welcome,” Kozlak says. “If your child needs to get up and walk around during the show, that is fine. We even allow snacks and drinks; whatever your child needs to feel welcome and comfortable at our theater.”
The doors to the show don’t open until shortly before the performance and a play space with toys and puzzles provides kids an opportunity to get some energy out before sitting down (or not) to enjoy a performance.
The first show of this season is “Adventures with Mr. Bear” which is designed for theater goers ages 2 – 5. Following that is “Nutt and Bolt,” an adventure about robot rivals who learn that working together yields better results than working apart. The props, costumes and sets, which are entirely made out of recycled and upcycled materials, allow the audience to engage and interact with the show.
In May of 2017, back by popular demand is their show “Point A to Point B” which was inspired by the “America on the Move” exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. The show, which features two actors, focuses on making a ball move from “point a” to “point b.” The ball keeps appearing, but it can never travel the same way twice! With an athletic risk taker and a calculating scientist, these two combine their skills to solve the problem.
In the summer, Arts on the Horizon, will mount a production of “By the Seashore” which uses puppetry, movement and sound to transport audiences from as young as 0 – 2 to the shore. “We focus on the sky, the shore and the sea and we travel to them on the beach,” Kozlak says. “The puppets are entirely made out of objects, such as when we make a bird out of shovels.”
Tickets for the approximately 30-minute shows start at six dollars. You can learn more about Arts on the Horizon and what they have to offer at artsonthehorizon.org.