Knuffle Bunny at The Rose Theater follows the relationship between a preverbal young toddler Trixie and her well-meaning but clueless Dad. After father and daughter take a trip to the Laundromat, Trixie beloved Knuffle Bunny is found missing and Dad must find a way to communicate with his daughter, fight off Kung-fu expert laundry, and get back Knuffle Bunny.
For Director Susann Suprenant, the show is sheds light on what parents can learn from children and vice versa.
“The show spoke to me because it’s just so recognizable,” Suprenant said. “Parents who really want to connect with their kids, they think ‘Oh! I’m going to be a parent and I’m going to show them all these things about the world and it’s going to be so wonderful.’ Little do they know that those little people come with their own agenda. They are their own people. They aren’t waiting to be designed by their parents.”
A parent herself, Suprenant found a connection between the play and the idea that raising children is a collaborative journey of self-discovery for all parties involved.
“I always felt that parenting was about finding out along with these beings ‘Who are you?’ I want to know. Show me. As opposed to ‘I’m going to tell you who you are and what the world is.’ Knuffle Bunny really shows that. The Dad wants to show Trixie everything he knows about the world and actually if he would just stop and let Trixie show him he would have lots to learn!”
Suprenant is mostly known for her with aetherplough, an innovative performing arts collective that uses multi-disciplinary performance methods to explore various concepts of the human experience. Though it seems like a far cry from children’s theatre, she begs to differ.
“For me, there is almost no difference… the things I want to put on stage, the things I want to work on with artists and share with an audience are things of the imagination. If you and I could talk about it at a coffee shop. If I could write it in an essay or paint it in a picture, I don’t need it on the stage. If it’s something I could figure out just driving around, then I don’t need to play with it, with other artists, or put it out for an audience to explore. It’s really about the imagination and theatre for young audiences is, for me, the most imaginative current theatre form. So it’s actually the most like the work I do in the performance world.”
For Suprenant, the most rewarding aspect of directing Knuffle Bunny come in introducing a new generation to theatre.
“I believe in the transformative power of theatre. To imagine that something I could do would have some small effect in introducing younger people to this art form and open an avenue of expression and experience for them, I can’t think of a greater privilege.”
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