SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Topics like the Civil Rights Movement and the Holocaust can be difficult for parents to explain to their children, but some find the arts can be a way to start to tackle the subject matter.

"Martin Luther King and the Sound of Freedom" is a stage play at Sacramento's B Street Theatre, specifically meant for families with children in the fourth grade and higher. Writer of the play, Jerry Montoya, says the violence is shown in a theatricalized way, through lighting and dance, rather than in a graphic manner.

The Harris Center is bringing a touring production of "Anne Frank: Words From The Shadows," a contemporary dance that shows the atrocities of the Holocaust. Dave Pier, Executive Director of the Harris Center, explained, due to the sensitive nature of the topic, an advisory was placed on their website to make sure parents were aware of what will be seen on stage.

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Shows like these have value in family conversations, according to Peggy Gulshen, Director of the Art Therapy Program at Sutter Health. 

“Don’t shy away from taking them to a play. Look at the recommendations for what age group the production is appropriate for,” Gulshen said.

Gulshen says to prepare children for what they might experience on stage, then have a discussion about what they have seen after the show. 

"You have to debrief yourself as a family after you are exposed to something that is very shattering inside, that is horrific or sad. So, you talk about it or make a picture about it, or you use the arts. The arts are so medicinal and are so natural for children to do anyway.”

Both shows have discussion guides available to help parents facilitate conversations with their children.

"Martin Luther King and the Sound of Freedom" runs through February 3rd at B Street Theater. Tickets are available here.

"Anne Frank: Words From the Shadows" will be at the Harris Center on January 31st. Tickets are available here. 

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