Fourth Edition of Tilt Kids Festival Unveiled

Fourth Edition of Tilt Kids Festival Unveiled

TiNew York, NY, Jan—The Cultural Services of the French Embassy and the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) are pleased to announce programming for the fourth annual TILT (March 2–31), a festival for kids, families, and adults showcasing lyrical and thought-provoking multidisciplinary international projects and new commissions from musicians, theater makers, visual artists, and philosophers. Co-curated for the first time by Laurent Clavel, Cultural Attaché of the French Embassy, and FIAF Artistic Director Courtney Geraghty, this year’s TILT engages leading French, Francophone, and American artists. Their works—many of which emphasize the theme of acceptance—nurture both imagination and social consciousness as they speak to the next generation of engaged citizens. Most of the events are free; for ticketed events, please visit

Described by The New York Times as “French in origin, fantastical in concept, and freewheeling in execution,” TILT refuses to condescend to young people. In its four years, TILT has served as living proof that kids enjoy and can be stimulated both creatively and intellectually by uncompromising, high-level artistry. The 2019 edition of the festival offers works that speak to young people’s keen ability to process the world around them—with its injustices and flaws as well as its beauty and infinite potential. As hate and fear have moved into mainstream political and social spheres on both sides of the Atlantic, this year’s TILT honors children’s awareness of and concerns about the world around them. The programming provides an outlet for conversation and contemplation about the world we inhabit, and uplifts young people to consider the world they would like it to become.

The first of five weekends will happen at FIAF, fostering a true festival atmosphere in which attendees can experience a number of events and activities over the course of a day. The festival launches in FIAF’s Florence Gould Hall with The Young Girl, the Devil and the Mill, a musical written and directed by celebrated theater maker and director of the world-renowned Festival d’Avignon, Olivier Py (who some may know as his drag alter-ego, Miss Knife), and inspired by the Brothers Grimm fairy tale “The Girl Without Hands,” March 2–3. In this commission for TILT, Py’s play has been translated into English and re-created by the director with an American cast, introducing New York audiences to Py’s poetic exploration of family, love, death, memory, faith, and the journeys young people take as they begin to understand to the complexities of human existence.

Cultivating an inclusive festival-type atmosphere, FIAF will present a full complement of programs on the weekend of March 2 and 3, many of which address acceptance and gender fluidity. Saturday events begin with Drag Queen Story Hour in the FIAF Library where Harmonica Sunbeam will create a glamourous, inspirational, and nonjudgmental space for kids to present themselves as they wish. Later that morning, Magali Mougel’s She No Princess, He No Hero (March 2 and 3)—directed by Johanny Bert, commissioned in English by TILT and produced with a new cast of American actors—will be performed in venues for small audiences. The audience will be divided into two groups, and each group will be addressed by two young characters, one after the other, who speak of the pressures of gender norms and stereotypes. A Dress Up Lunch in FIAF’s Tinker Auditorium will bring together festival attendees for a fun mealtime in between performances.

Julie Stephen Chheng’s augmented reality project Uramado, offered March 2­­­–31, will send kids on an app-based scavenger hunt for stunning creatures hiding in FIAF’s building and spread across other TILT venues.

Thrilling creative opportunities continue during TILT’s second weekend with two vibrant and spirited events in the ballroom of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy. On March 9, TILT families will be invited to come to the Gilded Age mansion wearing their quirkiest creative outfits made of scraps of trash for a not-so-formal Dumpster Ball with world-renowned French author and illustrator Marc Boutavant (Around the World with Mouk). His latest book, Dumpster Dog, will be released by Enchanted Lions Books just before the Festival, and shows us, through its charmingly awkward canine protagonist, that accepting differences is the key to understanding one another better. On March 10, multilingual French-Moroccan vocalist Malika Zarra will perform the world premiere of a new commission, a musical experience introducing children to a variety of sounds and rhythms from North Africa, bringing a new twist to TILT’s longstanding theme of musical exploration—a core element of the Festival’s DNA since it launched three years ago.

TILT’s third weekend offers a bold variety of multidisciplinary work in some of New York’s leading performance venues. 2018 MacArthur Fellow Okwui Okpokwasili will premiere Adaku’s Revolt, a new commission celebrating the bravery of children who listen to their bodies and challenge societal values, through a story about a young black girl who rises against normative standards of beauty (March 14–17, 22–24 at Abrons Arts Center). As Hilton Als writes in The New Yorker, “Okpokwasili has always been a standout in New York’s crowded performance scene, not least because of what she is able to do with her body…she makes whole narratives out of gestures—a back bend can intimate her irrepressible desire to take center stage and stay there.” On March 16, for the first TILT family program organized at Harlem Stage, saxophonist Yacine Boularès and Sarah E. Charles, a musician and teaching artist who weds her “acute melodic sensibility to her incisive sociopolitical analysis” (DownBeat) will perform AJOYOdescribed by the artists as a “mystic brew blending African tradition, jazz, and soul” in a “celebration of life, love, and justice through music.”

On March 24, TILT tradition Philosophy for Kids will return to the Brooklyn Public Library, now featuring philosophers who specialize in imparting the subject to children. The philosophers will discuss topics connected to TILT 2019’s themes of accepting difference and questioning stereotypes, and speak to families on subjects of parenting and education. TILT concludes with Theatre Re’s “profoundly moving” (BBC Radio 4) The Nature of Forgettingat The New Victory Theater, March 23–31. In this performance that left audiences and critics at the 2017 Edinburgh Festival Fringe awestruck, the London-based company applies its performance technique encompassing mime, theater, and live music to the depiction of a man (played by Theatre Re French artistic director Guillaume Pigé) grappling with early onset dementia, and revisiting his childhood memories as the work amounts to an “explosive, joyous celebration of remembering” (Exeunt Magazine).

From the Curators

“Each year this festival aims to offer young audiences a selection of high-quality works by acclaimed artists,” says Laurent Clavel. “This year’s edition focuses on the idea of inclusivity, of acceptance of difference, and is a way for us to bring the generations of tomorrow into current social debates through the arts.”

“Today, in a world where everyone is discussing politics, it’s important to emphasize that this is where it all starts,” says Courtney Geraghty. “This year’s TILT provides mind-expanding content to children so that they can further develop their imagination and critical thinking about serious issues surrounding their daily lives. The arts can inspire a new generation of cultural thinkers, political leaders, and responsible citizens of the world.”


TILT 2019 is made possible by FACE Foundation, the Howard Gilman Foundation, La Roche-Posay, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the Florence Gould Foundation, MAP Fund, and Air France Delta.

Programming Details


Julie Stephen Chheng: Uramado (US Premiere)
March 2–31
Multiple Venues
Ages 4 & up

Free & open to the public

Inspired by Japanese folklore, Uramado weaves together an immersive journey around the Tanukis and Yokais, spirits from the natural world who have woken up in New York City. Through augmented reality they come to life in surprising and whimsical ways, engaging the viewer with questions and a special gift. Created by author and designer Julie Stephen Chheng, these fanciful characters will be hiding throughout FIAF and among the many TILT venues, indoors and outdoors, ready to reveal stories about themselves. Spectators can download a free application, available on both iOS and Android, to participate in this captivating treasure hunt. Chheng will also lead a pair of workshops (March 2 at 4pm and March 3 at 12pm) where kids will be able to create their own stories using augmented reality with Chheng’s characters or her illustrated masks.

Drag Queen Story Hour with Harmonica Sunbeam
March 2 at 10 AM
FIAF Haskell Library, 
22 East 60th Street
Ages 3–8

60 minutes

Drag Queen Story Hour captures the imagination and play of the gender fluidity of childhood and gives kids glamourous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models. Storyteller Harmonica Sunbeam will create a space where kids are able to see people who defy rigid gender restrictions and imagine a world where people can present themselves as they wish and dress up is real.

Johanny Bert & Magali Mougel: She No Princess, He No Hero (World Premiere of English-Language Production)
March 2 at 11:30 AM & 4 PM, March 3 at 4 PM
FIAF Haskell Library & Skyroom, 22 East 60th Street
Ages 7 & up
70 minutes

Leïli and Nils are in the same class. Leïli likes to hunt, dress like boys, and gel her short hair. Nils likes to wear his hair long, shows his emotions, and is not physically strong. Neither conforms to gendered roles that society dictates. Told through the voices of Leïli and Nils, this intimate and poignant theater piece, based on a text by Magali Mougel, transports the audience into the mind of young boys and girls confronting the cultural stereotypes imposed as they come of age.

This English-language production by celebrated French director Johanny Bert comes to FIAF after being presented more than 350 times in France since 2016. For the performance, the audience will be split into two groups, with each one hearing from either Leïli or Nils. At intermission, the groups will switch rooms and hear from the second character. Together, they come to understand that they don’t need to be a princess or a hero; they can just be themselves.

Olivier Py: The Young Girl, the Devil and the Mill (World Premiere of English-Language Production)
March 2 & 3 at 2 PM
Florence Gould Hall at FIAF, 55 East 59th Street
Ages 7 & up
50 minutes

The brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm spent years gathering the folklore of northern Europe, collecting countless versions of dozens of tales, often changing the story to spare bourgeois sensibilities. Inspired by their work, renowned French director Olivier Py, who oversees the Festival d’Avignon, molded their stories into a musical for young audiences, introducing them to the mysteries and conventions of “real” theater without condescension or sentimentality. Based on The Girl Without HandsThe Young Girl, the Devil and the Mill tells the story of a naïve father who makes a deal with the devil without realizing that this bargain comes with the sacrifice of his own daughter. Fearful of the devil’s revenge, he cuts off both her hands. But the young girl flees and begins a journey fraught with perils that introduce universal questions about death, evil, love, war, memory, and fidelity.

The Young Girl, the Devil and the Mill is the first English-language production of Le Jeune Fille, le Diable et le Moulin, which premiered in 1993 at the Centre dramatique national of Sartrouville as part of Heyoka, and presented at the 2014 Festival d’Avignon.


Marc Boutavant: The Dumpster Ball (World Premiere of TILT Kids Festival Commission)
March 9 at 11:30 AM
Cultural Services of the French Embassy, 972 Fifth Avenue
Ages 5 & up

60–80 minutes

Free with RSVP

Renowned French author and illustrator Marc Boutavant—creator of Mouk, Edmond, and All Aboard, among many others—will release a new book about his funky dog character, named “Chien Pourri” in France.

Commissioned for TILT, the artist will lead a special event, where kids are invited to come dressed in all sorts of garbage, for a live drawing experience and fun dancing ball!

Malika Zarra: Musical Journey (World Premiere of TILT Kids Festival Commission)
March 10 at 2 PM
Cultural Services of the French Embassy, 972 Fifth Avenue
Ages 5 & up

Free with RSVP

For its second year, the Musical Journey event will bring French-Moroccan singer Malika Zarra and her collaborators to the French Cultural Services’ ballroom for an experience of inspiring sounds and music. Kids and adults will be transported into the singer’s intimate universe and invited to join the celebration.


Okwui Okpokwasili: Adakus Revolt (World Premiere of TILT Kids Festival Commission)
Thu, March 14, at 4:30 PM
Fri, March 15 & 22, at 6:30 PM
Sat, March 16 & 23, at 3 & 6:30 PM
Sun, March 17 & 24, at 3 PM
Abrons Arts Center, 466 Grand Street

Ages 7 & up

60 minutes


MacArthur Fellow Okwui Okpokwasili tells the story of a young black girl who summons her inner strength to revolt against imposed beauty standards and wear her hair naturally. Creator and performer Okpokwasili and designer and director Peter Born collaborate on an interdisciplinary approach towards examining gender and culture through this captivating performance. The name Adaku, in the Igbo language spoken in Okpokwasili’s native Nigeria, means “one who brings wealth to the family.” In this narrative, Adaku’s wealth lies in protecting the precious landscape of her hair from existential threats. Often a young black girl with un-straightened hair is perceived by society as exuding signals of rebellion, unruliness, madness, and ugliness. Adaku’s Revolt tackles what it might mean for a young girl to feel healthy and free from pain, even if she risks being ostracized.

Adaku’s Revolt is commissioned for the TILT by the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) with funding provided by The MAP Fund, supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and created with support from the Abrons Arts Center through the Abrons AIRspace Residency Program.

Yacine Boularès & Sarah E. Charles: AJOYO
March 16 from 4-6 PM
Harlem Stage, 150 Convent Avenue
Ages 5 & up
60 minutes preceded by a mask workshop
Free with RSVP

AJOYO is the vision of saxophonist Yacine Boularès: a mystic brew blending African tradition, jazz and soul. It’s a joyful ceremony bringing musicians and the audience close together.

For the first TILT collaboration with Harlem Stage, the young at heart are invited to engage with an instrument-making workshop before joining the band for an eclectic musical celebration.

Co-presented with Harlem Stage.

Philosophy for Kids
March 24 from 2-4 PM
Brooklyn Public Library, 10 Grand Army Plaza

Ages 6–12

30 minutes per session
Free and open to the public

The popular event Philosophy for Kids returns for its fourth edition at the Brooklyn Public Library, this time with an all new vision. Thinkers specializing in philosophical practices with children will lead a series of workshops on themes built around this festival’s edition: inclusiveness, openness, and acceptance of differences. This year, adults will also be invited to engage in conversations related to family and parenting questions.

Co-presented with the Brooklyn Public Library.

Guillaume Pigé and Theatre Re: The Nature of Forgetting
Sat, March 23 & 30, 2 & 7 PM
Sun, March 24 & 31, 12 & 5 PM

The New Victory Theater, 209 West 42nd Street
Ages 9 & up
75 minutes


Flying downhill on a bicycle. Whispering with a sweetheart. Wedding toasts and first dances. When the past begins to dissolve for Tom, a father experiencing early onset dementia, happy childhood moments collide with momentous adult milestones in tangled threads of memory. Through intricate choreography and a cinematic live musical score, London-based Theatre Re creates a compellingly powerful narrative of heartwarming humanity that moves you to places where words cannot. At the intersection of art and science, Theatre Re collaborated with British neuroscientist Kate Jeffery to examine the fragility of life in a captivating style embracing mime, theater, and live music.

Presented by The New Victory Theater with the support of TILT Kids Festival.

About TILT Kids Festival

TILT encourages a sense of freedom and adventure in the ways young people encounter art. Kids and adults alike discover new works by renowned artists that offer mind-opening experiences and celebrate diversity across cultures. TILT Kids Festival is produced by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy and the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) in partnership with leading cultural institutions, which this year include Abrons Arts Center, The New Victory Theater, Harlem Stage and Brooklyn Public Library.

TILT is co-curated by Laurent Clavel, Cultural Attaché of the French Embassy, and FIAF Artistic Director Courtney Geraghty

About the Cultural Services of the French Embassy

The Cultural Services of the French Embassy promotes the best of French arts, literature, cinema, digital innovation, language, and higher education across the US. Based in New York City, Washington D.C., and eight other cities across the country, the Cultural Services brings artists, authors, intellectuals, and innovators to cities nationwide. It also builds partnerships between French and American artists, institutions, and universities on both sides of the Atlantic. In New York, through its bookshop Albertine, it fosters French-American exchange around literature and the arts.

About FIAF

The French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) is New York’s premiere French cultural and language center. FIAF’s mission is to create and offer New Yorkers innovative and unique programs in education and the arts that explore the evolving diversity and richness of French cultures. FIAF seeks to generate new ideas and promote cross cultural dialogue through partnerships and new platforms of expression.

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