Chicago Children’s Theatre’s Red Kite Round Up returns to bring joy to children with Autism

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Interactive Theatre for children with Autism returns to Millennium Park, Feb. 1-20


 Chicago, IL ― Imagine a live theatre experience in which actors guide children on their own personal journey complete with chasing butterflies, hiking and camping under the stars. 

Such a show would be special for anyone – but it’s especially memorable for children with autism.  Chicago Children’s Theatre returns to Chicago’s Millennium Park in February with Red Kite Round Up, a one-of-a-kind theatrical experience tailored specifically to the needs and interests of children on the autism spectrum.  Children ages 5-14 can experience Chicago Children’s Theatre’s immersive, simulated camping experience Feb. 1-20, 2011, at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion Choral Rehearsal Room in Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph Street in downtown Chicago.

To keep Red Kite Round Up intimate and focused – and to better tailor each show to the special needs of each child in attendance – the number of tickets sold for each adventure is limited to 10 children and accompanying adults for each of them, as well as 10 observers.  Capacity for Red Kite Round Up is extremely limited and advanced reservations are required.  Performance times are Tuesday through Friday: 9 a.m., 10:45 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 10 a.m., 11:45 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.  All tickets are $10 each.  For more information or to reserve tickets contact Red Kite Round Up concierge Julia Beck at 773.227.0180 ext. 15 or, or visit

Red Kite Round Up: How This One-of-a-Kind Theater Experience Works

“There are really not words to describe our experience at Red Kite!  I was brought to tears watching my son experience camping, singing, make believe and humor in a way he would find magical,” commented Andrea K., a parent of a child who previously attended Red Kite Round Up.  “Usually, the world is too loud, too bright and just plain hard to maneuver.  So, to have this experience where I could just sit back and watch him smile, participate and enjoy drama and pretend play was magical.”

After booking tickets, each child and adult is sent a detailed Social Story – a preview of Red Kite Round Up that walks children through the experience of attending the show, from arriving at the location to the people they’ll meet to the adventure itself.  The parents’ Social Story serves as a guide for prospective attendees so they can gauge the appropriateness of the experience for their children and minimize potential anxiety.

Upon arrival, visitors to the Red Kite Round Up are greeted by caring, dedicated Chicago Children’s Theatre staff and artists whose mission it is to make each child feel comfortable, safe and welcome. 

Red Kite Round Up tailors each performance specifically to the unique needs of children affected by autism and offers a multi-sensory camping adventure that encourages children to move, laugh, talk and sing – not sit still and keep quiet.  Unlike most traditional live theater performances, at Red Kite Round Up children are encouraged to participate in the show and interact with the artists.  The actors are specially trained to be responsive to each child’s individual needs as they guide him or her through the world of Red Kite.  Plenty of inviting and stimulating experiences await all children, no matter how they want to participate.

Behind the Scenes

Red Kite Project is the brainchild of Chicago Children’s Theatre’s Artistic Director Jacqueline Russell, who co-founded the company in 2006 and has selected the work for each of Chicago Children’s Theatre’s five seasons.  For 13 years, Russell worked as an artist in residence at Agassiz Elementary School teaching drama to two autism-specific classrooms through CAPE (Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education).  Russell’s commitment to serving children with special needs led her to participate in a special hands-on workshop with London’s Oily Cart company in the summer of 2006.  Through continuing dialogue with this unique organization – which exclusively focuses on serving children with complex disabilities – Chicago Children’s Theatre developed the framework for Red Kite Project, which couples the work of both companies.

The cast for Red Kite Round Up include: Jesse Fisher (Cowgirl Ruby), John Francisco (Park Ranger Bob) and Ashley Winson (Penny).

Designers for Red Kite Round Up are: Luftwerk – Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero, projections; Andrea Everman, puppets; and Susan Kaip, set, costumes and props.

Chicago Children’s Theatre’s Red Kite Project recently was featured in the documentary video, “The Red Kite Project.”  For review copies, contact Kerry Shaw Brown, director and partner, Rascals and Rogues, at or 773.857.7800.

Supporters of Children’s Theatre’s Red Kite Round Up include: Audience Engagement Sponsor Searle Fund at the Chicago Community Chicago Community Trust; Technology Sponsor For Autistic Kids Foundation; Education Sponsors Pritzker Pucker Family Foundation, The Sheridan Foundation and Helen Brach Foundation; United, the official and exclusive Airline Sponsor; ComEd, the Official Lighting Sponsor; and Program partner Millennium Park.

Company Overview

Since its inception in 2006, Chicago Children’s Theatre has demonstrated a passionate commitment to creating meaningful educational programs for Chicago area youth and families.  Such programs have included collaborations with the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Chicago Park District, Chicago Public Library, Chicago Public Schools, Children’s Memorial Hospital and Chicago Children’s Museum, to name a few.  Chicago Children’s Theatre also offers Student Matinee and Scholarship programs, which furnish underserved students and schools with deeply discounted or complimentary tickets to its productions.  To date, these programs have reached over 10.000 children in Chicago.

Concurrent with the run of Red Kite Round Up, Chicago Children’s Theatre is presenting the world premiere play Jackie and Me, a time-travelling adventure by acclaimed playwright Steven Dietz, based on the popular children’s novel by Dan Gutman, Feb. 8 through March 27 at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn St., Chicago.  For tickets and information, visit or call 866.811.4111.

For more information about Chicago Children’s Theatre visit or call 773.227.0180.

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