Theater Arts Festival for Youth takes over Peter Strauss Ranch in Agoura this weekend, filling the country air with opera for kids, poetry, storytelling and songs from Africa, Asia, Mexico and more. Children’s entertainers will cast the spells, and families should plan to spend a full day listening, participating and picnicking.
Two stages, at the amphitheater and at the marble dance floor, will feature different programs each hour. Today’s schedule begins with singer/songwriter J. P. Nightingale and storyteller Paul Tracy and continues with the Jim Gamble Marionettes, mime Judi Garratt, the Imagination Company doing Mother Goose stories, percussionist Craig Woodson, Chinese dancer Alice Lo, Kids in Motion, singer/songwriter Peter Alsop, Aman Folk Ensemble and the Taffy Town Players.
Sunday’s program includes Nightingale, Teatro de los Puppets, Rhythms of the Village, We Tell Stories, Garratt, Japanese dance group Fujima Kansuma Kai, Uncle Ruthie, Charles the Clown, Ballet Folklorico Cuica Calli, Dan Crow and a finale by the Taffy Town Players.
Today at noon and 2 p.m., Opera Antics will conduct opera workshops for kids. Both days there will be continuous puppet-making workshops (kids can make and take home sock puppets) and Michael Marks will bring his Inflatable Art, a huge inflatable bubble kids can use felt pens on to create a group mural. Nurses from Childrens Hospital of Los Angeles will give free check-ups to dolls and teddy bears.
The Taffy Town Players, dressed as animal characters in 1850s English costumes (pigs Lord and Lady Bacon, Victor Otterman, water rat Edouard de Ville) will stroll the broad lawn, campaigning for town mayor (only kids can vote). Another stroller, David Kinnoin, will make up songs for kids as he moves about, using their inspiration. There will be food and drink for sale.
Peter Strauss Ranch is at 30000 Mulholland Highway. Exit the Ventura Freeway at Kanan Road and drive south 3 miles to Troutdale Drive, left to park entrance. Admission is $8; children 2 and younger free. Information: (818) 998-8424.