S and I have spent quite a lot of time at Salisbury Playhouse lately. She goes to her beloved drama club (Stage ’65) on a Saturday morning and loves it. I don’t mean that “yeah, she quite likes it” – I mean that she wakes up early on a Saturday morning and when it’s time to leave we run across town. I still can’t get out of her exactly what she does at drama club – all she tells me is that they did “lots of great things.” But she is absolutely mad about it and the excitement doesn’t seem to be dwindling.
As well as drama club, we also attended two brilliant performances at Salisbury Playhouse during half term. The first was Shh… Bang! on Monday afternoon, which S absolutely adored. She happily sat with a friend on a cushion in front of the stage, giggling away. It’s hard to explain what it’s actually about; in fact part way through the performance I was struck by how great it is that children’s theatre doesn’t need to have a story. And it doesn’t need to make sense; in fact, the less sense the better in many cases! As we walked into the theatre the two performers were already there, and began coming round, chatting to the children about what noises they could make. Before they began their actual performance there was a voice over to inform us parents that there was to be absolutely no shh-ing!
The performance involved the performers coming out into the audience to record sounds: watches, brains, shoes. Everyone loved it, but the best part was the ending, where they invited all of the children – and their adults – up onto the stage to dance among feathers. S was the first one up and dancing, with a massive grin plastered across her face.
I had bought these tickets at the last minute, and I’m so glad I did; it was a brilliant way to begin our week off, with smiles and dancing!
Our next adventure was to see Joseph Coelho‘s performance of Grannylocks/The Monstrous Duckling. This was essentially one man, using household objects and pieces of cloth to create puppets and tell a story. But not just any story; two slightly dark but child-friendly stories for younger children that had all of us enthralled. Grannylocks is a nasty old granny who goes around breaking into houses and stealing people’s things… until she breaks into the Three Bears’ house. The Monstrous Duckling is an egg that ends up in a duck’s nest… but what hatches is definitely not a duck.
What was amazing about these stories is that Coelho did the entire thing by himself. His hand became Grannylocks with the help of a well-positioned cloth. At one point he made a squirrel from a hair band and a feather, and the ducklings were pure genius.
When I was a teenager I remember thinking that puppet shows were silly because you always knew there was a person there making the puppet move. But all of us were drawn in by a man standing there with a cloth over his hand, making Grannylocks talk just by moving his thumb up and down. There was even a part in the story where Grannylocks was looking for somewhere to sleep… and tried out Coelho’s hair as a bed!
Now that we’ve gone back to school, we’re busy planning what we’ll get up to during the Christmas holidays.
First and foremost, there is of course the panto, which runs from December 3rd to January 7th.
Going to the panto has become something of a family tradition for us; we’ve been every year since S was born and each year she’s enjoyed it more and more. This year she’s really looking forward to going; I think the fact she’s been spending more time at the Playhouse means she understands what goes on there a little more. This year we’re going with our friends which always makes it a more enjoyable experience; we can’t wait!
As well as the pantomime, we spied an ad for The Night Before Christmas one morning while waiting to go into drama club. S seemed completely enthralled by the picture on the flyer, and really wanted to go – so while she was in drama club, I bought us tickets for Christmas eve. The show is running from December 5th – 31st and for me, it’s the perfect show for the Christmas season. We love Christmas in our house, and our tree is already up. I love finding Christmassy things we can do together, especially over the 2-week break and this show definitely fits the bill!
Check out this video of rehearsals for The Night Before Christmas: