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

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


Past productions include the following – contact Artivate for information and availability for the current year.

Fábulas Fairy Tales
Hispanic Heritage Month
Recommended for Grades PreK-3
Three’s the charm in this interactive Discovery Theater original. Start with three bears, three pigs, three little kittens, and three billy goats gruff. Add two languages, and what do you get? The perfect combination for a fresh and fun introduction to Spanish, literacy through storytelling, math, music, and more — and a fábulas new take on a quartet of familiar stories.

Retratos: My People, Myself 
Hispanic Heritage Month
Recommended for Grades 2-8
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.

How Old Is a Hero?
Black History Month

Recommended for Grades K-6
Discovery Theater’s original touring production introduces us to young heroes – and calls us to join them in changing the world. Meet Ernest Green of the Little Rock Nine, the first student to graduate from an integrated high school; Claudette Colvin, the 15-year-old who refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama, bus (nine months before Rosa Parks); and Ruby Bridges, who won equal rights before she could read. Moving archival musical recordings accent these scenes of struggle and hope.

Science of Spring
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

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

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