The Holi Celebration

On Sunday March 24th the Museum & Theatre joins together again with members of Maine’s community to celebrate Holi, the Hindu celebration of spring and color.

Better Understand the Tales of Holi

Did you know, Holi gets its name from Holika, who, according to Hindu religion, was the name of an evil enchantress. As the story goes, a good and kind prince named Prahlad was trapped by the evil enchantress, Holika. Yet, through a series of events, Prahlad was saved by his goodness and loyalty to Lord Vishnu, while the evil Holika was burned. Thus, on the night before Holi, many families have massive bonfires to celebrate this moment when good conquered over evil.
*See this story performed live this Sunday @3pm at the Museum & Theatre as we use finger puppets to tell the story of Prahlad and Holika.

This is not the only tale incorporated in and remembered during the Holi celebration. Another important story is that of the God Krishna who lovingly colored his friend Radha blue. This story inspires friends and family to take to the streets with handfuls of colorful dye and spray water pistols known as pichkaris. As people play Holi, they become covered head to toe with colorful dye!

Our Maine Community: Holi Celebrations

Sunday’s celebration of Holi is also special because it is part of a longstanding tradition for members of the India Association of Maine to share this celebration with the Portland community at the Museum & Theatre. Sabina, a longtime partner of the Museum & Theatre reflects, “From food and art to dance and music, the Indian community has enjoyed a very special collaboration with the Museum, allowing us to educate Mainers as well as welcome families.” Over the years, one of my favorite moments as an educator was watching a toddler from India get her first chance to touch traditional Holi dyes and make a Holi finger painting art piece. There are many traditions celebrated in Maine, and the Museum & Theatre is honored to be a place where people can celebrate together.
Also celebrate with the India Association of Maine: May 5th!

Culture Cooking: Spring Rolls

Today special culture kitchen guest, Stalla Austin, taught me and a group of Museum & Theatre visitors how to make a traditional Chinese spring roll in honor of the Chinese New Year. Stella is an experienced cook who grew up celebrating the Chinese New Year, which is traditionally filled with family, red lanterns, traditions of good luck and of course food! These spring rolls are the most delicious spring roll ever.

The cooking adventure begins gathering flavorful ingredients you may or may not have in your house. Note: the flour wrappers will be found in the freezer aisle and the five spice bean curd tofu will be found in the refrigerator aisle. Stella’s recipe measures by weight, below I include the approximate measurements by volume that we used when cooking. Take the…

  • 1 package of flour wrappers 

out of the freezer an hour before making, or place in warm water to thaw quickly. To ready the remaining spring roll fillings, bring a large pot of water to boil and blanch… 

  • 3 cups shredded carrots
  • 3 cup mung bean sprouts
  • 2 cups of Enoki mushrooms (with ends trimmed off)

After about 3 minutes remove the vegetables, which should still be firm. Run under cold water and then drain thoroughly (pat with towel if needed).  Now slice…

  • 1 package of five spice tofus

Stand slices of tofu up on their long narrow end and make three slices, then stack the slices on top of each other and slice thinly, making long thin strips of tofu that resemble the size of the julienned scallions and Enoki mushrooms. Now gather…

  • 3 scallions julienned
  • ½ cup cilantro chopped (we just tore the leaves from the stems, chatting about plant parts as we did so)

Congratulations! You have all the ingredients ready for assembly time. Set up a plate for everyone participating (the more the merrier!). Place a flour wrapper on each plate with one corner facing away from and one corner facing toward the person wrapping (like a diamond). Then in the middle place a handful of blanched vegetables topped with tofu strips, scallions and cilantro. Then fold the wrapper on a diagonal by picking up the corner closet to you and pulling it over the filling to reach the opposite corner. Using strong hands, scootch the filling under the top wrapper to the side of the wrapper closest to you, fold in outside corners and seal the wrap shut by dipping your finger in a cup of water and running it along the edge of the top corner. This last step is very important, it’s the lucky one! Heat…

  • 3 Tablespoons oil 

in a pan on the stove and fry. Stella said that fried spring rolls are common on Chinese New Years, because their golden color is a symbol of good wealth for the coming year. Flip on both sides until rolls reach a pretty golden-brown. Then mix up your dipping sauce with…

  • 1 cup sesame paste (tahini)
  • 2 Tablespoon sesame oil
  • 3 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoon sugar

We hope you enjoy this Chinese tradition and it brings you joy in the New Year of the Pig!

Special culture kitchen guest, Stalla Austin, chops ingredients

What to Expect at a Play Your Way Event

On any given day, if you make your way around the Museum & Theatre exhibits—the Fire Truck, the Lobster Boat, the Car Shop, and the Ambulance—you will see (and hear!) players of all different ages, ethnicities, abilities, and genders. The firefighters, farmers, car mechanics, and EMTs truly reflect the diversity of our Greater Portland Community. The Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine is committed to welcoming all families each and every day and we are continuing to grow these efforts in our plans for the future.

In an effort to welcome more families, we offer special Play Your Way events to invite families affected by Autism, Down syndrome, Sensory Processing Disorder, or other challenges to play in our exhibits during a quieter time and meet other families in the community. Museum & Theatre educators are on-hand to answer any questions you may have about the Museum & Theatre’s projects and programs and to support your family’s needs. Play Your Way events are the perfect time to try out the Museum & Theatre and see if it’s a good fit for your family.

Play Your Way is one of my favorite events to host at the Museum & Theatre because I see visitors really getting to “play their way.” A couple months ago, a young girl would not leave the Have a Ball exhibit to explore more of the Museum & Theatre, even after her parents showed her our visual exhibit guide with pictures of other places to play. However, instead of pushing her out of the ball room, the parents happily played for a full hour in just one space. I often see the exact opposite as well; children might move quickly (but safely!) from one exhibit to the next. Last month, a mother reflected that she was able let her child orbit the first floor alone while she kept an eye on him from a central location giving him some much-appreciated freedom and her some much-needed rest! She also mentioned that during a busier time at the Museum & Theatre, she would have been worried about chasing after her son for fear that he might do something that other visitors might not understand. At Play Your Way, she knew that everyone would understand the way her son plays.

This year, we will not only “play our way,” but we will also highlight four different holidays. We’ll kick off the year with a Valentine’s Day Play Your Way on Saturday, February 9th from 9-10am. We’ll create colorful valentines for someone special and get moving during a love song dance party. Then, participate in a Dinosaur-themed Egg Hunt on Saturday, April 14th from 9-10am to celebrate spring with a science-y spin on this age-old tradition. Keep your eyes out for information about our sensory trick or treating event before Halloween and a chance to meet Santa Claus in a low-key, inclusive setting in December.

Play Your Way events are now FREE thanks to our long-time partner WEX! If you have questions about the event, please contact Lily O’Brien at lily@kitetails.org or 207-828-1234 x227

Lily O’Brien, Museum & Theatre Educator

Cooking Healthy: Potato Snowballs

Brittany measures and mixes up ingredients with Museum & Theatre visitors.

It’s definitely worth enjoying the cold snowy days while they are here, however; also worthwhile is a warm, cheesy comfort food inspired by the need for something to warm the insides on cold days. If you are snowed in, this can be the perfect way to get a little messy, practice fine motor skills and eat some nutrient rich greens.

Potato Snowballs

Do you have leftover mashed potatoes? Gather the family around to make a delightful and nutrient packed potato popper. This can be a fearless a kitchen exploration, because there is no way these ingredients could be combined that wouldn’t taste good.

First, gather your bowl, aprons, mixing spoon, baking tray and preheat the oven (375). Use the microwave or the stove top to thaw…

1/2 cup frozen spinach

and then mix with …  

2 cups mashed potato.

Now you have a nice potato spinach dough that can be rolled into balls. Get a little messy! Can you roll potato balls that are big, small, the size of a cherry? Once a variety of potato balls have been made (all the better if they are different sizes and shapes) place a cranberry sized chunk of…

cubed cheddar cheese (½ cup in total)

in each ball. Finish each potato ball off by rolling in…

breadcrumbs (½ cup total)

I used Panko, but any crumbs would be fine. Finally, bake in the oven at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
Enjoy now or freeze for later!

Brittany Liscord,Educator & Community Engagement Coordinator

*Healthy Cooking programming is sponsored by NorthEast Delta Dental   

Join Us During February Vacation!

When school is OUT, fun is IN at the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine!

 Join us from 10-5pm each day of vacation week for some of our most popular, regularly occurring activities that will relieve your family’s cabin fever. Meet our LIVE animals during Turtle Time, Honeybee Chats, or when we open the Tide Pool Touch Tank. Settle in for our classic Star Shows, process-based art activities, or take a panoramic tour of Portland using our Camera Obscura. And — of course — play in our four floors of exhibits!

In addition to the activities every half hour, check out these extra fun extra programs offered on each day of vacation:

Tickets are On Sale Now for The Three Little Pigs!

Hilarity ensues with this over-the-top version of our very favorite story. Grab your tickets before they’re gone!
Click the performance links below to purchase your tickets today.

Friday, February 15th, 4pm
Saturday, February 16th, 1pm
Saturday, February 16th, 4pm
Sunday, February 17th, 1pm
Sunday, February 17th, 4pm
Wednesday, February 20th, 11am
Wednesday, February 20th, 2pm
Thursday, February 21st, 11am
Thursday, February 21st, 2pm
Friday, February 22nd, 1pm
Friday, February 22nd, 4pm
Saturday, February 23rd, 4pm
Sunday, February 24th, 1pm
Sunday, February 24th, 4pm
Friday, March 1st, 4pm
Saturday, March 2nd, 1pm
Saturday, March 2nd, 4pm
Sunday, March 3rd, 1pm
Sunday, March 3rd, 4pm



WHAT IF… Portland Had Its Own Superhero Team?

A team made of those who will fight crime, protect the city, and rescue people in distress? Little do most know, deep down in the Theatre of the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine is a secret lair where heroes are made…

INTRODUCING:

…Where you can become the hero Portland deserves!  Start by choosing a superpower, then an outfit to match. Select powerful objects and animal helpers to aid in your quest. Solve problems on stage to save the city from disaster! If you’re more gadget-minded, take a seat in the sound cave and follow along with the action by providing epic sound effects.

Will you take on the forces threatening our waters?

Action! HQ was dreamt up in the summer of 2018, inspired by the power of children to solve problems and take action in their own communities and the widespread, age-defying popularity of superhero stories. We aim to celebrate that and empower more young people by giving them a chance to make their own heroic persona and try their hand at fighting for the forces of good.  This newly opened exhibit has already proven itself as a center of super imagination!

Our Theatre has always been a wonderfully creative play space. For this addition, we dug deep into what makes our Theatre so fun and engaging, and enhanced those elements. The popular soundboard now has Foley sounds such as coconut shells and instruments as well as electronic noises, dress up now includes wacky and unique props, and the stage features a puppet theatre that doubles as a set piece!

Will you take on the power of flight?

It has been a truly fulfilling experience to watch our young visitors don a cape and mask and act out their stories on stage. I’ve seen heroes fighting dragons, mediating between squabbling animals, and covering a dull, bland city in a blanket of sparkles. I can’t even make these things up myself. So although the above comic books are not real, all are invited to come and make their own stories. The virtue, and the creativity, knows no bounds.

-Terra Fletcher, Exhibits Assistant

Terra answers the call of a city in distress!

Help Us Warm Hearts Through the Gift of Warm Hands!

We’re doing a Mitten Drive this Holiday Season!

As a Museum & Theatre educator, I am lucky enough to paint, sing, act out stories, explore live creatures, and make new friends with thousands of little ones each year. While it may seem like running over 500 Tide Pool Touch Tank programs each year would be rather repetitive, each and every time I go to the touch tank, roll up my sleeves, and plop my hands into the chilly water, the new faces and our repeat customers make the experience a new, magical “pop up” community of learners, listeners, and sharers. It’s something I’ve grown to treasure.

This year, some of my favorite interactions have not just been during our programming; instead, they have been more personal, one-on-one conversations related to our Mitten Drive. In an effort to spread the spirit of giving, the Museum & Theatre is asking our community to help us collect 150 mittens (or gloves!) for children experiencing homelessness this winter. At first, it seemed like a simple enough task: Ask people to give mittens. Receive mittens. Give Mittens to friends in need. However, this project has become much more.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve found myself in awe of the conversations I’ve overheard in our lobby by our Mitten Drive collection basket. I’ve heard young mothers explain to their children that they are giving mittens so that other children can stay warm this winter and watched as the children quietly soaked in that feeling of giving. I’ve watched grandmothers come in with hand-knit mittens with carefully spelled out instructions to wash in cold water—how magical to treat a person who you’ve never met with such care. I’ve watched an older child take off her own mittens, leave them in the collection basket, and walk out into the cold, her hands pushed deep into her pockets, but her shoulders and head held high from that feeling of making a difference, no matter how small.  

If you’d like to share in the giving, please consider bringing new or gently used mittens the next time you come to play or if you’re passing by our 142 Free Street location during your downtown holiday adventures. We appreciate all you give to your community.

Happy Holidays from the Museum & Theatre!

-Lily

Museum & Theatre Educator 

Lily, during one of her ‘Tiny Tunes’ programs this fall.

Come Have a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day with Us!

Our actors are having a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Watch the video to find out why (and then read below for info on how to see the show)! 

We’re staging a punky musical version of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible No Good Very Bad Day! Performances will run between Christmas and New Years Eve, December 26-30, with encore performances the first weekend of January. Tickets are $10. (Museum & Theatre members get a 10% discount!)


Poor Alexander. He wakes up with gum in his hair, he trips over his skateboard, and his sweater falls in the sink– all before breakfast! He can tell it is going to be a horrible day. So horrible, in fact, that he dreams of moving to Australia.

“Everyone has had a day like this! This play gives us a chance to truly commiserate!” said Reba Askari, the Director of Theatre & Education. “This story has hidden gems- opportunities for parents and children to talk about social emotional issues and to empathize with others. Alexander deals with so many moods and emotions, from envy and jealousy to accepting one’s mistakes. I hope that the play will serve to entertain our audiences, as well as open up the door for some good dialogue.”

Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day, written by Judith Viorst and illustrated by Ray Cruz, was first published in 1972 (some may remember it as a Reading Rainbow book!). This special musical version of the story was created by Viorst and the Kennedy Center, with Charles Strouse and Shelly Markham composing the music. The Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine’s production of Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day is produced with permission from Dramatic Publishing of Woodstock, IL.

Museum & Theatre productions are staged “for kids, by kids.” The ensemble consists of 14 young Maine actors between the ages of 8 and 15 from the Greater Portland area. Playing the title role of Alexander is Oliver Hettenbach of Portland. Providing musical accompaniment is local actor and musician Megan Tripaldi. The theatre space is intimate and great for young audiences. Tickets are $10 (members of the Museum & Theatre receive a 10% discount). For a full performance schedule, visit our theatre page.

The Museum & Theatre will hold a special opening night performance and party on Wednesday December 26, 4pm-6pm. Tickets to opening night are $18 per person and include a ticket to an after-party to celebrate with the cast and crew and enjoy refreshments.


Performance Info:

Shows will run between December 26, 2018-January 6, 2019.  Tickets are generally $10 (members receive a 10% discount)

Click the showtimes below to buy tickets:

The Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine offers theatre productions, weekly educational programming and a safe, fun place for children and families to play in downtown Portland, Maine. More information can be found at our website.

2018 Auction Photos

Thank you to all of our wonderful auction sponsors, donors, and attendees! This year’s auction was amazing. Take a look..maybe you’ll spot someone you know, or even yourself! 

Photos courtesy of www.robertakersphotography.com and James Hardman Photography/@jhardman87.

 

Special Guest & Honoree: Long-time Museum & Theatre friend Maddy Corson

Exclusive Beverage Sponsor: Coffee By Design

Gold Sponsors: Gorham Savings Bank, MEMIC, Spectrum Healthcare Partners

Silver Sponsors: Benchmark Residential and Investment Real Estate, Cross Insurance, Ducas Construction, Hands On! Studio, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, New England Cancer Specialists, Pro Search, Inc., Southern Maine Pediatric Dentistry, Zachau Construction

Bronze Sponsors: Baker Newman Noyes, Bruner/Cott & Associates, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists of Maine Medical Center, Fidelity Investments, F.W. Webb, Gebhardt Property Management, Industrial Roofing Companies, LandVest, Pine State Services, Seabee Electric

Thank you to our auctioneer: John Bottero of Thomaston Place Auction Galleries

Musical Entertainment: MAMMoth Brass Band

Bar Sponsors: Allagash Brewing Company, Maine Beer Company, Maine Mead Works, Spindrift, Stroudwater Distillery, Zonin

Dessert Sponsors: Bernie’s Foreside, Urban Sugar

Gift Bag donors: Allagash Brewing Company, Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital, Fiore Artisan Olive Oils & Vinegars, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, L.L. Bean, Inc., Rainbow Toys, Saco & Biddeford Savings, Shipyard Brewing Company, Southern Maine Pediatric Dentistry

In-Kind Sponsors: Burr Signs, Robert Akers Photography, Transformit, Unified Parking Partners

Vendors: AV Technik, LLC, The Bread & Butter Catering Co., Brick South, One Stop Event Rentals, Moonlighting Production Services

Food Courtyard Options: Brûlée Bike, Highroller Lobster Co., Mr. Tuna, Rock n Roll Hot Dogs

 

 

Jacob’s Penguins

 

A community art project in loving memory of Jacob Thompson

If you’ve been to the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine recently, you may have noticed our collaborative art gallery hung along our stairwell walls. As you head up to our second floor, you’re greeted by a giant 4-foot penguin sculpture, which has a very special meaning behind it.

This piece of art was created with over 500 cards received by 9-year-old Jacob Thompson, who upon receiving news of his terminal illness, requested Christmas cards from the community. This request was met with overwhelming support from around the world, receiving 300,000 individual cards and another 300,000 homemade cards sent in from schools, communities, church groups, sports teams, and other groups. Many of the cards featured Jacob’s favorite animal: penguins.

The collaborative art piece, Live Like a Penguin, can be viewed at the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine during normal business hours through May. The Museum & Theatre has additional cards received by Jacob and is hoping to create more penguin collages in the future. Keep an eye on our events calendar if you’d like to be a part this meaningful community art project.

About the Artwork
Title: Live Like a Penguin
In Loving Memory of Jacob Thompson
Artist: 100 Museum & Theatre visitors
“Jacob Thompson fought a courageous battle with neuroblastoma for four years and in Fall 2017, he made the simple request for the community to help him celebrate Christmas by sending cards. Thousands of complete strangers sent Christmas cards to Jacob at Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center. Jacob loved penguins. Jacob and his family were inspired to “Live Like a Penguin,” meaning, “be friendly, stand by each other, go the extra mile, jump into life, and be cool.” We hope this piece inspires you to learn more about neuroblastoma, help a penguin rescue group, or simply give someone you love a big, penguin hug.”
Materials: A small portion of the Christmas cards sent to Jacob at Maine Medical Center, tempera paint, cardboard, glue

In the News
You can read more about Jacob and his family’s story through the following links: