Innovations in Theater
If you’re going to take your kid to the theater, make sure you’re seeing something you’ll enjoy too. Pip’s Island certainly fits the bill. The interactive adventure, which runs through January 8th, thrusts visitors into a magical world of fantasy, puzzles, adventure, and fun. Children engage with actors, moving with them throughout the show (no seat squirming!).
Co-creator Rania Ajami (who developed the project along with her brother Rami Ajami and Creative Director Walter Krudop) is always searching for new ways to tell stories. As a filmmaker, she’s focused on subjects from female guards in Libya to forest wardens. Her multi-media children’s company, Jumping Pages, produces smart new content for kids. Ajami took a break from her many projects to answer some questions.
How would you describe the children’s theater scene in New York?
While I don’t consider myself an expert on the children’s theater scene, as a mom and the founder of a multi-media company that produces programming for children called Jumping Pages, I have seen many of the shows that are currently available for children. Pip’s Island stands apart from traditional theater and family entertainment. It is a live, narrative, immersive adventure for families that provides engaging and rewarding experiences.
Pip’s Island is three years in the making and follows the adventures of a cast of charismatic characters, led by a boy named Pip and his cohorts Pebble and Finn. The story stimulates and inspires the imagination.
You’re based in New York and London—what do you miss most when you’re in London?
I love NYC because anything is possible. If you have a dream to create something totally out of the box, you will always find incredibly talented and passionate people that will jump on board for a crazy journey. I love NYC’s energy and truly cosmopolitan feel. New York is everyone’s city.
I grew up in London and it is during this time that I really got incredible exposure to some of the world’s best theatre and music. I love taking my kids to all of the pantomimes, children’s theater, puppetry and musical events for kids when we visit London. I often find a lot of inspiration there.
Describe a few of the immersive elements in Pip’s Island that you think will most appeal to children.
Everything about Pip’s Island is immersive. It is actually a live experience where children are the heroes of the narrative. Children aged 4 to 10 and their families explore 12 distinct environments, each featuring live actors, animated characters, magical creatures and puppets, and innovative use of technology. Everything is multi-sensorial and specifically designed to be touched and explored by children while it sparks their creativity.
What will older viewers take away from the show?
There are activities and challenges for explorers of every age. Older children particularly enjoy the puzzles, challenges, and teamwork involved. They’ve compared the adventure to being inside a video game.
Parents love participating in Pip’s Island. Naturally, they delight in seeing their children having a wonderful time. They also enjoy the high-caliber design of the environments, the soundtrack, and the well-developed characters and narrative. Parents are especially pleased with the learning components of the adventure. Children solve puzzles and challenges, work together to achieve a common goal, and enjoy a sense of empowerment as a result of completing the journey. The interactive activities were developed in collaboration with child development experts and educators, and they foster skills outlined within the STEAM curriculum – science, technology, engineering, art, and math.