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story.lead_photo.caption Courtesy Photo The Walton Arts Center hosts the return of theater company Cahoots NI as part of the Mattel Kids Series.

Cahoots NI returns to the Walton Arts Center Feb. 25 with a visual treat for families. The Northern Ireland children's theater company first visited in 2016 with its production of "Egg," and now the actors are back with a fresh tale of silliness, adventure and empathy -- all non-verbal.

"Without words, the kids are actually drawn in to the story -- they lean forward, and you can see the kids coming in to try and watch more closely," says actor Hugh Brown. "They're picking up on very physical theater and their imaginations are on alert, so they're actually much more concentrated. So the lack of language makes us able to tell these quite deep stories."


‘Shh! We Have a Plan’

WHEN — 2 & 4 p.m. Feb. 25

WHERE — Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville

COST — $9/kids; $15/adults

INFO — 443-5600 or

FYI — The 4 p.m. show will be a relaxed performance, specially modified for viewers with sensory-input disorders or who may feel uncomfortable in a typical live theater performance.

Brown plays the father of a family of three on an adventure through the woods in "Shh! We Have a Plan." The plan in question refers to the trio's schemes and antics to capture a beautiful bird they discover high in a tree.

"It's not that he's trying to hunt it or hurt it, he just wants to have it for himself because it's so beautiful," Brown shares of his character's motivation. "But deep down [the kids in the audience] know that what we're doing is wrong, and that what we should really do is live peacefully with nature and with the bird. And at the end of the story, there's a really beautiful visual moment, and it's very powerful when you feel the kids and the families and everyone -- they really empathize with the idea of nature being free."

With a production incorporating original music, illusion, physical comedy and clowning, puppetry and a little bit of magic, Cahoots aims to engage kids in a way that encourages them to think more deeply about the world around them, while letting their imaginations soar.

"The arts is a really safe place where we can discuss lots of things that happen in our lives, and can show children in a safe way that life is not always easy; sometimes it's hard. And they can go away empowered to talk to their parents about things they face in their own lives," Brown offers. "We want [audiences] to all walk away as a family and go, 'That was a really, really special experience we've had together,' and get to talk about it. It's live art -- it's happening right there and then; it's centuries old. And that's important."

NAN What's Up on 02/18/2018

Print Headline: Flights Of Fancy

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