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FESTIVAL

NoHo puts the accent on children

May 15, 2003|Lynne Heffley | Times Staff Writer

Families eager for some quality time that doesn't involve Dolby sound and gallon tubs of popcorn, or the expenditure of a small personal fortune at local theme parks, may want to check out this weekend's 11th annual NoHo Theatre & Arts Festival.

A thriving arts district smack dab in the heart of North Hollywood will be showcased with fine art exhibitions, performances, workshops and other activities.

To be sure, a score of art galleries and theater venues will be offering plenty of edgy, interesting and new fare for adults; this year's festival, however, is also giving major weight to arts and entertainment that kids can share with their favorite grown-ups.

Along with professional children's plays inside several venues -- from the Road Theatre Company to the Actors Forum Theatre's vaudeville show for all ages -- a "Kids' Kourt" area will take center stage outdoors.

There, an "Art Box" will encourage hands-on art-making and an ever-changing, widely varied bill of dance, music, storytelling and theater performances presented by student musicians, actors and dancers and by adult theater pros, including members of the critically acclaimed Deaf West Theatre and the Children's Museum of Los Angeles' Reader's Theatre Project.

"Last year we put the Kids' Kourt in the middle of the festival, and it was packed both days," said Don Eitner, the festival's executive director. "This year we've expanded the seating to 300 seats, enlarged the stage and opened the area around it to accommodate many more."

Children's programming should not be "a kind of second thought," Eitner said.

"We're developing an arts community for everybody," he said, "and kids are a significant part of the future of the arts."

NoHo Theatre & Arts Festival, Lankershim Boulevard between Chandler and Magnolia Boulevard. Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Admission to daytime events, free; discounted admission to evening performances available at the Theater Booth during festival hours.

(818) 623-7171;

www.nohoartsdistrict.com.

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