Before it learns how to speak, a baby responds to sounds by cooing, gurgling and changing his or her facial expression. Then it begins to babble and, eventually, the first "mama" or "dada" pops out to parental delight.

Words, therefore, are not necessary for communication. Something that any new parent — or expat — can understand. That's the premise Shizuoka Convention & Arts Center Granship will work under when it gives parents the chance to expose their kids to the theater this weekend. Starting Saturday, performances that combine animation and puppetry will be staged by groups from Denmark, Germany, Israel and Russia as a part of the 2013 Granship Theater for the Children of the World.

Among the shows featured at the event will be "Butterfly Kiss" by Israel's Mediatheque Theater, "Wind" by Denmark's Theatre Madam Bach, "Hand-Made" by Russia's Saint Petersburg Plastic Hands Theater, and "Stick Man" by Germany's Theater Salz+Pfeffer.

The productions feature beautiful imagery and are filled with the kind of positivity that children respond to. Performers are hoping young children aren't the only ones who will respond, though. Shows may be aimed at infants and toddlers, but students and adults should enjoy them, too.

Granship Theater for the Children of the World will take place Aug. 3-6 at the Shizuoka Convention & Arts Center Granship. The venue is adjacent to JR Higashi-Shizuoka Station. Starting times and programs vary by day. The earliest shows start at 9:30 a.m. Tickets cost ¥500 for elementary school students and younger, and ¥1,500 for adults. For more information, call 054-289-9000 or visit (in Japanese).