Mission: “To create theatre so strikingly original in form, content or both that it instills in young people an enduring awe, love and respect for the medium, thus preserving imagination and wonder, those hallmarks of childhood that are the keys to the future.”
Founded in 1977, Childsplay is a nationally and internationally respected professional theatre company whose chosen audience is children. At Childsplay we believe that young people deserve to experience challenging, thought-provoking theatre of the highest artistic quality. Our respect for children’s intelligence and creativity drives us to produce new and innovative works by theatre’s finest artists. Equally, our understanding of the challenges facing Arizona’s classroom teachers leads us to offer arts education resources in 40 communities annually. In the past 36 years, we have educated and inspired more than four million young people and families. We have grown to serve an average annual audience of 200,000 students, teachers, and families.
Founder David Saar recognized during his MFA studies that children could reap great benefits from experiences with professional theatre. After graduating, Saar gathered classmates in a 1964 Chevy Impala, and equipped with basic sets and costumes, began performing in local classrooms. Today, performing in schools remains a core Childsplay activity with three annual touring productions that visit hundreds of schools throughout Arizona. It is estimated that one in five Arizona K-6 students will see a Childsplay production at their school. More than half of this audience lives at or below the poverty level. Alongside the tour season, Childsplay’s annual programming includes: nine months of in-house productions for school and family audiences at the Tempe Center for the Arts; an on-site academy of theatre classes throughout the year; and a variety of education outreach programs embedded throughout the greater Phoenix community.