It’s weeks like this I really appreciate how much I love my job.
There aren’t many people who can say they spent the week hosting children’s theatre in library spaces, playing with puppets, listening to giggling children and recording the joy on their faces as they totally immerse themselves in the thing they are watching… True there’s the obligatory noise of crying, calls for needing the toilet (not me, I do that on my own) and spilt drinks on the carpet. But all in all it has been a fabulous few days.
It all started when I went to Bacup Library to help them host their first Spot On show – Handa’s Hen by Little Angel Theatre. It’s a fantastic show for ages 3 to 6, full of beautifully hand-crafted puppets, singing, dancing and introducing counting in Swahili to enraptured children. It has been a long time since I’ve seen a show hold the attention of so many children – all of different ages. You could have heard a pin drop when the first puppets (two beautiful butterflies) flew into the audience and landed on unsuspecting heads. Three shows and 117 children later and I think it was safe to say we had an amazing day!
Then I headed to Ormskirk for two performances of the same show – by now I knew how the tour manager liked her coffee and why individual cushions are a bad idea when you’re trying to squeeze an audience into a confined space. We left the cushions in the car* for this show and somehow managed to seat 104 children during the course of 2 shows that day.
I spent those two days talking to other users of the libraries, explaining what the show was about, how it had come to be performed at these spaces. And I was met with a resounding approval when I explained that the show was aimed at attracting young children to the library, that we’d offered schools and nurseries the opportunity to bring large groups of children who might not normally get the chance to engage with theatre – for some it was clear this was their first ever experience of a performance. The wonderful bonus was it attracted so many younger audiences too – children as young as 7 months old who sat and watched the show transfixed.
I’m now reading through reams of wonderful feedback forms from happy audiences. I’m discovering that Stoneygate Nursery has now renamed their hen Mondi after the lead character in the show. I’ve been thanked for bringing a show to Bacup which was accessible to children where English is not their first language. I’ve been reminded that capturing the attention of so many children in such a small space for 40 minutes is no mean feat, and I’m exceptionally proud of that.
We’ve still got a whole host of children’s performance this season so check out our shows: www.spotonlancashire.co.uk
* You leave the cushions in the car because children (we’ve discovered) have a tendency to sit much further apart from each other if you give them a cushion. Whereas, if you just have floor mats they huddle together just like it’s assembly and you can fit a lot more children per row!