Living in the United States is hard right now — not tanks-and-bombs-invading-our-borders hard or living-under-a-totalitarian-regime hard and thankfully not choosing-between-food-and-medical-care hard — but our very freedoms and privilege add our own kind of hard. When bad things happen in our country, we have the freedom of speech and a right to our own opinion. Learning to navigate the good and bad of life while respecting the rights of others is not easy for our kids, and its not easy for us as their parents. In their world premiere production of Something Happened in Our Town, Children’s Theatre Company doesn’t try to minimize this difficulty. It doesn’t offer easy answers, and it attempts to offer unbiased portrayals of the people navigating a difficult experience because these characters represent the people of our town. For better or worse, we are in this community together and it is time to start raising our children to be the best versions of themselves they can be.
Something Happened in Our Town
Something Happened in Our Town is the play based on the book of the same name by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins and Ann Hazzard and illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin. I’m sure, like many other parents in our community, I’ve read or streamed a reading of this book for my kids too many times in the past couple years. The book has been really helpful, but the play expands on the story and brings it to life in a way that makes kids see the connection to real life. My seven-year-old sat on the edge of her seat for the first two-thirds of the show, finally she turned to me and asked, “Did this really happen?” I didn’t have an easy answer for the middle of a show, but I whispered, “This story is fiction, but real things like this happen.” That helped her to settle down and watch the rest of the show without anxiety. Because she is the youngest in a big family, we’ve had discussions about current events as they’ve happened — much like the families of Emma and Josh in the story — but watching the story unfold gave her new insight.
While the play does not offer easy solutions for adults, both the book and play offer children something they can do to make the world better: be kind to everyone, be inclusive, and don’t make assumptions about people without getting to know them. Simple, but not easy. We adults need to do our best to model this behavior. Really not always easy.
A Dramatic Reading of the Book
If you don’t have access to the book and want to read it before or after seeing the play, you can watch a dramatic reading of it by CTC here:
About Something Happened in Our Town
Friendships challenged, a world changed, and two young people struggling to make sense of it together. Follow friends and neighbors, Josh and Emma, as they navigate their way through an experience beyond their control and understanding.
Josh and Emma have many questions about the tragic killing of a Black man by a White police officer. Real questions that deserve real answers. But during conversations over dinner, at bedtime, before and after school, their families (one Black and one White) find such answers don’t come easily. Layered with compassion and humor, this show invites you to walk alongside Josh and Emma as they confront uncertainty within their town and between themselves. More than just a “must see,” this play will help families more fully understand how their neighbors’ experiences might be different than their own.
- ASL Interpreted Performances: Friday, March 25, 2022 at 7pm
- Audio Described Performance: Friday, March 25, 2022 at 7pm
- Sensory Friendly Performance: Saturday, March 26, 2022 at 11am
Parental Guidance for Something Happened in Our Town
Children’s Theatre Company recommends this play for ages 7+. I would agree. I was a little worried it would be too mature for my seven-year-old, but she found it engrossing and understood the story and themes.
I believe parents would be fine taking advantage of a lap pass for a younger sibling. There are no loud noises or scary scenes. However, this story would not entertain a young child, and they would likely have a hard time sitting quietly through the full 90 minutes. I’d recommend an exit plan and an extra adult if you are bringing a younger sibling.
- The Family Room is open at the MIA is open during museum hours. The blocks have been put away, but there is room to play and books to read together. The MIA strongly encourages but does not require masks for everyone.
- CTC also has a quiet room where a parent could continue to watch the play but let a younger child play on the floor. CTC requires masks on everyone during your entire visit.
- If the weather is cooperative, you could escape outside to Washburn Fair Oaks Park across from the MIA/CTC.
I am so glad we were able to see this play. I feel like it added to my daughters understanding of issues that she hears about but doesn’t always understand. It offered her actionable steps she can take when the world seems too scary. I know we are all tired of a divisive climate in our community, and sometimes we would just like to ignore it. But, I highly recommend going to a performance of Something Happened in our Town with your grade school kids and working through the Questions for the Ride Home found on page 14 of the play’s program. You may be surprised by and proud of your children.
Family Fun Twin Cities received free tickets to this show in order to facilitate this review. All opinions are our own.
Featured Image Credit: Something Happened in our Town at Children’s Theatre Company, Minneapolis. Actors Lola Ronning, Dean Holt, Kevin West, De’Anthony Jackson, Calvin Zimmerman, Rajane Katurah. Photo by Glen Stubbe Photography courtesy of Children’s Theatre Company.