User Image

Discovery Theater

Foundational Reading Skills, Earth and Space Sciences, Literature, Cultures, Music, Nonfiction Informational Reading, Life Sciences, Performing Arts, Speaking and Listening, Geography, Visual Arts, Writing, US History, World Languages, World History :
Smithsonian Staff

MISSION

Mission of the Smithsonian Institution: “The increase and diffusion of knowledge.” 

Smithsonian Associates advances the Institution’s mission to “increase and diffuse knowledge” through life-enriching educational and cultural experiences inspired by the Smithsonian’s research and collections for DC-region students, families, and adults, and for learning communities nationwide.

Discovery Theater has been presenting DC-area children with live educational performances for more than 30 years. As a program of the Smithsonian Associates, Discovery Theater serves as a child’s gateway to the exhibitions, collections, and cultures contained in the museums on the National Mall and beyond.  There’s so much to explore at the Smithsonian!

HISTORY

Founded in 1964 as The Smithsonian Puppet Theater, performing in a room in the NMAH on the third floor.

*Interesting fact: an electrical fire two weeks before the theatre opened destroyed all of Bob Brown’s Marionette puppets, and delayed the opening by two months while new puppets were constructed.

In 1979, the theater moved into the historic Arts and Industries Building and rechristened as Discovery Theater. The theater continued to feature puppets and began to include other traditional arts such as storytelling, acoustic music from around the globe, mime and commedia clowning; retelling of classical Greek and Roman fables and myths and ensemble performance in the manner of festival or street performers. The theater’s inclusion as part of the Smithsonian Associates defined its mission as serving primarily the Metropolitan area’s children and their teachers and families.

*Interesting fact: Harold Closter, now Director of Smithsonian Affiliations, as a program assistant helped lay the original carpet and stage and remembers the excitement of the theater’s opening well!

By 1995, Discovery Theater had broadened its reach to present the heritage and cultural arts, and accessible science and math; reflecting the larger collections and making it a ‘gateway’ to the Smithsonian for local children. Its affordable ticket price and community of educational artists, teachers, parents, children who had grown up with Discovery Theater and the Smithsonian make this a destination in our nation’s capital, and most area schools children’s first visit to both a theater and a museum.

*Interesting fact: Dinorock, award winning puppet and music artists, premiered every one of their 7 shows right in Discovery Theater before heading out on their National tours—(you see it first at Discovery Theater!)

In 2004, the Arts and Industries (one of the two oldest buildings at the Smithsonian, built in 1882) closed its doors to the public to await a much needed renovation. Discovery Theater, its 300+ annual shows and programs, 50,000 children and adult audience members, (and the puppets!) moved into a beautiful new boutique performing space designed for them by Sachs Morgan Studios, one of the leading designers of theaters in the country.

*Interesting fact: In this same year, Discovery Theater began the first tour of its blockbuster Black History piece, Black Diamond: Satchel Paige and the Negro Leagues; written by Raquis Petree with music by Marion Johnson. The program, part of a series entitled The Greatest Stories Never Told, stills tours today, now with two other pieces from the series Going the Distance: Wilma Rudolph and Jesse Owens; and How Old is a Hero? Young People of the Civil Rights Movement

Discovery Theater's collections

 

Taiko Drums

<p>Discovery Theater is a pan-institutional museum theater dedicated to bringing theatre to young audiences and general visitors on and off the Mall since 1969.  The world’s most dangerous half-Japanese/half-Scottish solo improvisational taiko drum artist combines this traditional form of powerful playing on huge “Taiko” (drum) with a modern vibe, creating  participatory performances that rock the house and educate all the senses. Taiko players are their own instruments—the body dances as the music pours forth with massive sound and energy.  Experience Mark and his music in a dynamic show that celebrates this fierce Japanese artform.  </p>
Discovery Theater
35
 

¡Cuentos!

<p>Discovery Theater is a pan-institutional museum theater dedicated to bringing theatre to young audiences and general visitors on and off the Mall since 1969. Recommended for children between the ages of 3 and 7, this delightful Discovery Theater original offers a fresh take on three classic tales . The Little Red Hen asks the question “Who will help?” Jack and the Beanstalk proves that small is mighty. And The Gingerbread Man… well, he’s just one bad cookie. Filled with delightful songs, puppets, and audience participation, this bilingual story-time spectacular is not to be missed! </p> <p>Themes:</p> <p><em>Jack and the Beanstalk:</em> Our version of this classic story teaches kids about overcoming adversity and intervening on behalf of those with less power than you.</p> <p><em>The Little Red Hen</em>: This story teaches kids about the important of helping others!<br /></p> <p><em>The Gingerbread Man</em>: This fun tale also serves as an example of not trusting someone without carefully considering what their motives might be.<br /></p> <p><br /></p>
Discovery Theater
32
 

Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

<p></p><p>Meet the butcher, baker, pizza-dough maker, and all of the friendly people who make our neighborhoods terrific places to live every day. Recycled crafting and interactive songs make this community day the perfect blend of learning and just plain fun.</p><p></p>
Discovery Theater
36
 

Here We Go Team!

<p>This Discovery Theatre original scores big in a musical play about sharing and taking turns, the importance of personal space, and the awesome power of teamwork.  Five-year-olds Mika and Casey are aspiring soccer stars and best friends—but they’ve ended up on separate teams! Through a mishap on the field, they discover that helping people is cool, thanks to another kind of 'team'-- of medical stars who make everyone feel great.  </p>
Discovery Theater
54
 

Jojo’s Backyard Safari

<p>Discovery Theater is a pan-institutional museum theater dedicated to bringing theatre to young audiences and general visitors on and off the Mall since 1969. It's time for high adventure as Jojo goes on the lookout for all kinds of fascinating creatures in the wilds of his very own yard. What will he find hidden in plain sight? Come along on the trek as we learn, create, and play in this musical mini-travelogue about the <strong>hidden natural world</strong> close to home.</p>
Discovery Theater
62
 

Grandma's Thanksgiving Visit

<p>This interactive play created by Creative Tools for Teaching team is infused with pre-literacy, pre-numeracy, and inquiry-based activities. It celebrates family and the many things we are thankful for! Grandma has arrived for the holiday—and that can only mean making puppets, cooking together, washing the car, and learning lots of fun new things. This musical play with a great big heart brings the whole audience into the family with singing, finger play, and call-and response as we all give thanks for being together. Presented by Discovery Theater--a pan-institutional museum theater dedicated to bringing theatre to young audiences and general visitors on and off the Mall since 1969. </p>
Discovery Theater
69
 

Seasons of Light

<p></p> <p>Discovery Theater is a pan-institutional museum theater dedicated to bringing theatre to young audiences and general visitors on and off the Mall since 1969. Joy, warmth, and community illuminate seasonal holiday celebrations the world over. Back for its 20th season, this signature Discovery Theater show celebrates the history and customs of Diwali (Devali), Chanukah, Las Posadas, Ramadan, Sankta Lucia Day, Kwanzaa, Christmas, and the First Nations’ tradition of the Winter Solstice in an interactive event that bridges communities and cultures. This show sells out early, so get your tickets now!</p> <p></p>
Discovery Theater
54
 

Into the Great Unknown: African American Adventurers and Explorers

<p></p> <p>Discovery Theater is a pan-institutional museum theater dedicated to bringing theatre to young audiences and general visitors on and off the Mall since 1969. Leadership, courage, and adventure take center stage in this inspiring Discovery Theater original. Meet Matthew Henson, co-discoverer of the North Pole, and Barbara Hillary, the first African American women to reach that summit nearly 100 years later. Thrill to the frontier exploits of the hard-riding mail carrier “Stagecoach Mary” Fields and Nate Love, the former slave who became the legendary cowboy nicknamed Deadwood Dick. Journey with modern mountaineer Sophia Danenberg to the summit of Mount Everest. And learn how astronauts and aerospace pioneers Guion Bluford and Mae Jemison are charting a whole new frontier today. From the Pole to the prairies to outer space, the histories and heroism of these African American women and men attest that true grit and personal power can push us toward greatness.<br /></p> <p></p>
Discovery Theater
42
 

Once Upon a Moon

<p>Discovery Theater is a pan-institutional museum theater dedicated to bringing theatre to young audiences and general visitors on and off the Mall since 1969. Let’s go to the moon! In this exciting, interactive show for our youngest audiences, performers and puppets spin new and old stories about the moon’s magic, introducing the magical science that brought rockets to its surface. What new worlds can we dream about next? </p>
Discovery Theater
66