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Arts & Entertainment

'Frick Kids' puts 19th-century fun into modern lives

| Thursday, Sept. 2, 2004

If your kids think fun can't exist without electronics, a visit to the Victorian era might be in order.

Through live storytelling and game playing, youngsters Saturday at the Frick Art & Historical Center can learn about the daily lives of the Frick family children, Childs and Helen. The brother and sister grew up in the late 19th century at the Point Breeze home, where they played games such as hoop rolling -- a popular pastime that involved pushing wooden hoops down the sidewalk with sticks.

At the Frick event, kids will go hoop rolling after the stories, so they can experience some of what they've heard, says Pam St. John, the Frick's curator of education.

"We talk to them about kids growing up at the turn of the century, and what it was like for Helen and Childs to grow up here on Millionaire's Row," she says.

Alison Babusci, a professional storyteller from Lawrenceville, will tell her audience the same tales the Frick kids and their peers enjoyed, such as the silly tall tale about a stupid but nice boy named Jack.

"It's the most popular one in the show because it's very, very funny," says Babusci, 34, who tells her stories at other venues including the Mattress Factory.

Kids, she says, seem especially entertained and fascinated by her Victorian show, which she wrote two years ago.

"They love to see active characterization like that," Babusci says. "It's also just that fascination ... they think, 'Wow, we've come a long way, baby!' and 'Wow, this is what life was really like back then?'"

The 30-minute "Frick Kids: Once Upon a Time" program starts in the Frick's Visitors' Center, which was built in 1897 as a playhouse for Helen and Childs. It included a bowling alley, a photography dark room and a play room -- places that modern children will recognize from their own world, St. John says.

"They can make parallels to their own lives," she says. "There might be some things that they do that are very similar" to Victorian children's activities.

While the kids watch Babusci give her presentation, held outside under a lawn tree, they are bound to have some laughs, if history proves correct.

"I do try and play up humorous telling," Babusci says. "Many kids ask me, 'Do you feel silly making those silly faces and voices you make?' Of course, I answer 'no.'

"Fantasy and nonsense are a way to view another world that maybe is not the world you get to see on a daily basis," Babusci says. "But isn't it fun to pretend?" Additional Information:

Details

'Frick Kids: Once Upon a Time'

When: 10:15 a.m. and 11 a.m. Saturday.

Admission: Free. No registration required. Ages 4 to 9, accompanied by an adult.

Where: Visitors' Center at The Frick Art & Historical Center, 7227 Reynolds St., Point Breeze.

Details: (412) 205-2022.

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