Smithsonian Associates Discovery Theater on Tour: The Greatest Stories Never Told

See Programs tab for tour dates.

Discovery Theater presents audiences with live performances that celebrate the rich diversity of our region and our world. Programs tap into the vast resources of the Smithsonian Institution to present relevant, culturally accurate, entertaining programs that allow audiences to experience heritage, science, and culture, in a memorable way.

It was an outstanding show, especially for our 1-5th graders. There were strong curricular connections and it fit in well with our Social Emotional learning objectives as well.

– Assistant Principal, Washington International School

Wonderful show! The group is so easy to work with and the actors have great energy that really connects with the students!

– Director of Instructional Programs, Severn School – Chesapeake Campus

The performance was outstanding. Students were engaged and learned a not very well-known history lesson through music and theater. The performers enthusiastically engaged the audience and students and staff really enjoyed it!… Well done, Smithsonian!

– PTA Cultural Arts, Hillcrest Elementary School (BCPS)

The Discovery Theater was phenomenal… The actors and stage manager were amazing. It was a very engaging performance with a lot of audience participation. The messages were so important… It was a wonderful experience. Highly recommend!

– PTA, Clemens Crossing Elementary School (HCPSS)

Wonderful! Everyone was amazed at how the artists were able to engage and teach our children! Some even commented we’ve never had a program on this level.

– Teacher, Glebe Elementary School (APS)

The performers were top-notch; they had wonderful enthusiasm, commanding voices, and great control of the student audience.

– PTA Cultural Arts, Dominion Trail Elementary School

The Smithsonian Discovery Theater was founded in 1964 as the Smithsonian Puppet Theater, performing in a room in the NMAH on the third floor. In 1979, the theater moved into the historic Arts and Industries Building and was rechristened as Discovery Theater. The theater continued to feature puppets, and began to include other traditional arts such as storytelling, acoustic music from around the globe, mime and commedia clowning; retelling of classical Greek and Roman fables and myths; and ensemble performance in the manner of festival or street performers.

The theater’s inclusion as part of the Smithsonian Associates defined its mission as serving primarily the Metropolitan area’s children and their teachers and families. By 1995, Discovery Theater had broadened its reach to present the heritage and cultural arts and accessible science and math, reflecting the larger collections and making it a ‘gateway’ to the Smithsonian for local children. Its affordable ticket price and community of educational artists, teachers, parents, and children make this a destination in our nation’s capital, and the first visit to both a theater and a museum for most area schools’ children. In 2004, the Arts and Industries closed its doors to the public to for a renovation. Discovery Theater, with its 300+ annual shows and programs, 50,000 children and adult audience members, then moved into a new boutique performing space designed for them by Sachs Morgan Studios, one of the leading designers of theaters in the country.

Artist’s website: Discovery Theater & Touring Shows


Hispanic Heritage Month
Available Tour Dates: October 2019
Recommended for Grades PreK-3
(Pair with Retratos: My People, Myself **)

Three tales in two languages– Chicken Little, Jack in the Beanstalk, and The Gingerbread Man fly off the page to the stage in this fresh take on classic stories. Puppets, sing-along songs, and audience participation make this show fantastico!

NEW! – Retratos: My People, Myself 
Hispanic Heritage Month
Available Tour Dates: October 2019
Recommended for Grades 2-8
(Pair with ¡¡CUENTOS!!**)

Joyous and deep, this interactive play about how the lives of young people today are magnificent reflections of their ancestry, their individual identities and America’s future. Developed from material by students from D.C. schools writing about art, history and their complex lives and feelings.

Going the Distance
Black History Month
Available Tour Dates: February 2020

Recommended for Grades K-6

In this original Olympian musical play, audiences race to the finish line with Jesse Owens and Wilma Rudolph, who overcome childhood disability and illness to win the highest honor in athletics, the Olympic gold medal. Soaring anthems and lively action speak to the heart and soul of the winner in all of us!

Into the Great Unknown: African American Adventurers and Explorers
Black History Month
Available Tour Dates: February 2020
Recommended for Grades K-6

Leadership, courage and adventure take the stage in this inspiring new play from the Smithsonian highlighting the history and heroism of adventurers and explorers such as Matthew Henson and Barbara Hillary, Arctic explorers; Stagecoach Mary of the wild, wild west; Guion Bluford, first Black astronaut; and Sophia Danenburg, modern mountaineer and first African American to climb Mt. Everest.”

NEW! – Once Upon a Moon
Available Tour Dates: March 2020
Recommended for Grades PreK-3

With exquisite puppets and large scale interactive models of the moon’s phases, science and story combine to spin old stories about the moon’s magic and introduce the exciting historic Apollo mission that brought us to its surface.  What new intergalactic worlds can we dream about next? Presented in partnership with the National Air and Space Museum.”

NEW! – Science of Spring
Available Tour Dates: April 2020
Recommended for Grades PreK-5

The wonder of the seasonal awakening of the earth takes center stage in this Discovery Theater original exploring the indigenous and modern science behind the greening of the year. Using science, culture, and history, we examine humanity’s relationship to the natural ‘new year’ –a time when the earth and its creatures experience rebirth, regeneration, and new growth.

Single $700/Back-to-Back $950

**NOTE – You can schedule ¡¡CUENTOS!! (for younger students) and Retratos: My People, Myself (for older students) on the SAME DAY for the back-to-back fee of $950. If you choose this option, the artists will need 30 minutes in between performances to reset.**

Fees above are for daytime school programs in Maryland, Washington, DC and northern Virginia only.

Evening, weekend, and non-school fees differ – please contact us.

Additional travel fees apply.

Audience, Preschool, Elementary School

Art Forms, Music, Theatre

Program Type, Performance

Curriculum/Theme, Language Arts, Social Studies, World Languages

Thank you for your interest in Artivate's professional teaching artists. We are excited to work with you to bring high-quality performances and workshops to your community.

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