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The Lobero Theatre’s Youth and Community Outreach Programs are an integral part of the Lobero’s mission to operate and maintain the historic Lobero Theatre as a performing arts center and cultural asset to the community, and to present the highest quality productions possible in music, dance, and theater. These vital programs include residency performances with Santa Barbara Vocal Jazz Foundation, school field trips to the Lobero to see live shows by Nebula Dance Lab and BOXTALES Theatre Company, performances of the Santa Barbara Youth Symphony on the Lobero stage, bringing The Derek Douget Band to local high school/junior high school jazz bands for hands-on masterclasses, providing subsidies for a variety of youth organizations performing at the Lobero (such as AHA! Santa Barbara, State Street Ballet Academy, Santa Barbara Center for Aerial Arts, and the Spirit of Fiesta Auditions), and underwriting youth tickets to attend performances at the Lobero – including It’s Magic!  for children affiliated with our social services partners, like Boys & Girls Club, Transition HouseCASA, and more.

By Anne Wilde

The professional non-profit Santa Barbara-based touring company, now celebrating their 30th Anniversary, originally began as a literary outreach program for the Lobero Theatre Foundation in 1994.

The Lobero is proud to be a sponsoring partner of BOXTALES Theatre Company and is excited to welcome them back to perform live on our historic stage March 11-13, 2024. Their current show, Stand-Up Stories: Multicultural Tales to Live By features Michael Andrews (Executive Artistic Director and Co-Founder), Matthew Tavianini (Managing Director), and Alina Cinal. The show includes the following collection of multicultural folktales and myths: Phaethon (Greek Mythology), The Stonecutter (Chinese Folktale), The Lions Whiskers (Amhara Tribe of Ethiopia, Eastern Africa), and Too Much Noise (Jewish folktale from Central and Eastern Europe).

Michael Andrews, the grandson of writer/philosopher Alan Watts, was born into a family of poets, musicians, and social engineers – so his career is a natural progression from his background and interests. In addition to his work with BOXTALES, Andrews is also the leader of Santa Barbara’s premiere dance band Area 51, and has an executive performance coaching/consulting business with his wife Jessica Bortman, with whom he also has two sons. Michael believes storytelling is a superpower – a metaphor that we are the protagonists of our lives and possess the ability to create our own destinies through the choices we make.

After developing a proclivity for collecting eclectic instruments from around the world associated with multicultural rituals, Michael began collaborating with fellow Santa Barbara performers Michael Katz and Joseph Velasco – cross-pollinating their strengths in movement, storytelling, music, and acting to create BOXTALES Theatre Company. Many of the company’s performers over the years have trained with James Donlon at UCSB and Sigfrido Aguilar at the Estudio Busqueda de Pantomimo Teatro in Guanajuato, Mexico – whose influences on the style of the company is quite significant.

Beyond conventional theater disciplines, BOXTALES makes use of diverse methods borrowed from other performance and cultural rituals. Since the mid 90s, troupe members have been studying multicultural performance traditions to inform their work, in many cases traveling to other countries – such as Greece, Germany, Spain, England, Hungary, Mexico, India, the American South and Pacific North West – to study with master teachers. Some of these disciplines include acro-yoga, mime, aerials & circus skills, Brazilian Capoeira, Italian commedia dell’arte, and the South Indian dance and martial arts of Kalaripayattu, Kathakali, and Mohiniattam.

Using mythology and ritual, theater can carry cultural wisdom, teach values, and create a sense of social unity and integrity for a community. BOXTALES brings myths and folktales from around the world to young audiences utilizing masks, movement, music, and storytelling.

Their shows and assemblies fire imaginations, inspire creativity, strengthen cultural pride, encourage tolerance, and engage young people in the excitement and immediacy of live performance. The troupe produces four shows per season and perform approximately a hundred shows per year.

A pre-show school assembly introduces students to the nature of mythology and folktales, while providing tools for interpreting meaning in stories and how to adapt lessons in life. Then, the students enjoy a field trip to the Lobero Theatre for a fully staged production of “Stand Up Stories – Multicultural Tales to Live By,” followed by an audience-artist Q&A. And later, a follow-up assembly contextualizes the social-emotional content of the show they experienced at the theater.

BOXTALES offers touring shows, school assemblies, and 3-week summer camps. Their touring shows – engaging for both youth and adult audiences – teach compassion, self-discipline, and resourcefulness. The theater company’s school shows, crafted with the California Department of Education content standards in mind, use the same material, only edited to fit the assembly format.

And BOXTALES’ summer camps aim to help students develop their voices, bodies, and imaginations by teaching performance skills which help them to grow both as both artists and as citizens. This supportive environment enables kids to learn discipline, take risks, master new skills, overcome their fears, and develop self-esteem. Collaborating with the participants to create a completely original play based on myth or folktale, BOXTALES offers the unique opportunity for the children to perform in a professional theater, such as the Lobero or Marjorie Luke.

For more information about BOXTALES, visit or contact Michael Andrews via email at


Photo Credits: David Bazemore

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