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Family Theater

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Unveiled on December 9, 2005, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts' new 324-seat Family Theater provides a new home for world-class family theater performances for the nation's youth and continues the Kennedy Center's $125 million commitment to performing arts education for adults and children alike.

"This new venue" said Michael Kaiser, president of the Kennedy Center, "expands the Kennedy Center's ability to produce and present excellent works for young people." The inauguration of the Kennedy Center's state of the art 324-seat Family Theater facility coincides with the 30th anniversary of the Kennedy Center's youth oriented Performances for Young Audiences series.

Designed by the architectural firm Richter Cornbrooks Gribble, Inc. of Baltimore, the new theater is located on the site formerly occupied by the AFI Film Theater. Its construction spanned 11 months, and incorporates the most modern theatrical innovations available, including: premium audio technologies; a computerized rigging system; and a digital video projection system.

photo of family theater seating photo of family theater foyer

Family Theater Seating Chart

[Family Theater Seating Chart]

Now performing in the Family Theater :

Image for Performances for Young Audiences: <i>Mockingbird</i>

Performances for Young Audiences: Mockingbird


A world premiere Kennedy Center and VSA commission
based on the National Book Award–winning novel by Kathryn Erskine
Adapted by Julie Jensen
Directed by Tracy Callahan
Featuring Aaron Bliden, Rex Daugherty, Maboud Ebrahimzadeh, Gabriela Fernandez-Coffey, Susan Lynskey, Thony Mena, Tia Shearer, Dylan Silver, and Kathryn Tkel

"Mockingbird offers a finely nuanced look at grief, love, and autism with a hearty dose of laughter mixed with the tears... This Mockingbird not only has heart, it positively soars."--DC Metro Theater Arts

Caitlin's world has always been black and white. As an 11-year-old on the autism spectrum, she used to rely on her older brother to help make sense of things beyond dictionaries, schedules, and the facial expressions chart at school. But now that he's gone, she's all on her own. With the support of her advisor, father, and a new reading buddy, Caitlin begins to understand how to get close to people again, embrace the "messiness" of emotions, and use her burgeoning artistic talents to move on. Hailed as "extraordinary… [a] moving and insightful masterpiece" by Publishers Weekly, Kathryn Erskine's 2010 National Book Award–winning young adult novel has been adapted for the stage by Julie Jensen, a recipient of the Kennedy Center Award for New American Plays. Directed by Tracy Callahan, this moving, vibrant, and surprisingly humorous world premiere play shows how the perseverance of one girl can change a community--and how black and white can always be complemented by a kaleidoscope of colors.

Flip through the digital version of our colorful Cuesheet magazine. Share it with your family before attending the show--to make the most of your experience together!

For age 10 and up. 

Performance Timing: 75 minutes, with no intermission

Note: The Kennedy Center and the Washington Center for Psychoanalysis Theater Program will host a lively post-show conversation after the 4:00 p.m. performance on Sunday, Feb. 1, featuring Mockingbird author Kathryn Erskine; child, adolescent, and adult psychoanalyst Dr. Jill Miller, PhD; lead actress Dylan Silver, and others.


Note: The 1:30 p.m. performance on Sat., January 24 is Sensory-Friendly.

Sensory-Friendly Performances are designed to create a theater experience that is welcoming to all families with children on the autism spectrum or with other disabilities that create sensory sensitivities.

Accommodations for Sensory-Friendly Performances include:
* Lower volume and consistent sound levels (no jarring sounds);
* Lights remaining at a low level in the theater during the performance;
* A reduction of strobe lighting focused on the audience;
* An understanding that patrons are free to talk and leave their seats during the performance;
* Short performance times, lasting 60-75 minutes with no intermission;
* Designated quiet areas within the theater;
* Space throughout the theater for standing and movement;
* Smaller crowds and a limited number of visitors at the Kennedy Center during the day and timing of the performance; and
* Trained Kennedy Center staff members who are inviting and accommodating to families' needs.

Families will also have access to resource materials to prepare for their visit. Please contact the Accessibility Office at 202-416-8727 (voice/relay) or for more information.