As an actress myself I think it’s wholly important to take children to the theatre. To give them a live performance experience is giving them a slice of something so incredibly special it should be considered as important as being introduced to good literature.
Unlike the television, which can be edited to within an inch, the theatre is an extension of the written word and to watch someone else’s expression of words on a script coming to life live and in front of your very eyes is almost magical!
Waiting in the wings ready to come on as a performer is adrenalin charged and full of emotion! This is projected from the actors and is felt by the audience which is what makes it so exciting for me. You are all in one room, anything could happen and even if the genre, particular play or performance isn’t your cup of tea it is often appreciated by the sheer fact it is happening right now, a stones throw from where you sit!
Imagine looking at theatre through a child’s eyes then. If it is exciting for me as an adult how wonderful must it feel and be for a little one?! This age old rustic form of entertainment is so beautiful and I wonder how it must feel to be introduced to it for the very first time again? Utterly fabulous I would think!
I have taken my children to the theatre pretty much ever since they were born. We have introduced them to all kinds of performances from huge arena tours of famous Disney type affairs to local theatre being performed outside in the park. Florence, at age 3 and a half, recently went to see her first West End musical, ‘Wicked’ and I was surprised that SO many people came up to me to say how well she was doing to be watching so contentedly. I don’t consider her to have done well necessarily, she was up late and I was in amazement at her lack of tiredness but why wouldn’t she do well to watch something so fantastic? She was seeing the same show as me and I didn’t want to look away, of course she didn’t either!
It’s not all adult theatre for my children though, far from it! We absolutely love children’s theatre too and I think it’s something we do superbly well in this country. In London particularly we are spoiled for choice and tickets for some things are incredibly inexpensive. Take the Polka Theatre in Wimbledon, we visit fairly frequently and tickets are around the ten pound mark. This is a theatre absolutely dedicated to children and as a charity runs performances, workshops and plays host to all manner of activities for children under 13.
We went to see Polka’s very own production of ‘Gorilla’ yesterday and it made me think YES! This is what theatre is all about! We were in their adventure theatre rather than the main space and it’s always been my favourite area at the venue. It’s so small and intimate, children sit on the floor right up to where the actors perform at their feet and I have never seen anything which hasn’t had every pair of tiny eyes focussed entirely on what is happening on stage – this performance was absolutely no exception! Polka just ‘get it’, they hit the nail firmly on the head every time both with plays like ‘Gorilla’ which they produce themselves to the outside companies they invite in. Polka is the perfect introduction to child friendly length entertainment and then you can stay all day playing and learning in their fantastic space – we are so lucky to have theatres like this and we simply MUST use them!
Jimmy and Florence LOVE visiting the Polka Theatre in Wimbledon not only for the wonderful performances but because we stick around for a play in the wonderful spaces both inside and out. We also rather like to have a snack and drink in their cafe which has a train to sit on! We didn’t sit on the cafe train yesterday and it caused tears so I won’t make that mistake again!
If you are interested in going to see ‘Gorilla’ then I can’t urge you to enough! We’d happily go again! It’s an incredibly clever show with only two actors doing everything including the set changes and puppeteering. Phil Yarrow and Cerri Ashcroft are clearly very accomplished and engaged with the audience perfectly. They have both previously been cast in Polka productions including the wonderful Charlie and Lola which we saw back in May. It’s because of Charlie and Lola that Florence calls Polka simply ‘The Puppet Theatre’ and always asks when we are off to see something new if it going to be there.
Phil Yarrow, Cerri Ashcroft and their puppet friends!
‘Gorilla’ is about a little girl called Hannah who LOVES gorillas and has a very busy Daddy. She longs to do things with her Daddy like go to the zoo or the cinema and as it’s her birthday coming up she has asked for a very special present from him. A real live gorilla… She doesn’t get exactly what she’s after but she does get something even better and so does her Daddy when he realises just what he’s been missing out on by being too busy to play with Hannah!
Florence particularly loved how the bed became a street and mixing human acting with puppeteering was inspired making it a very unusual experience! It was, as all shows are at Polka, beautiful, wonderful, amazing and it made us smile from ear to ear! I am constantly impressed with how they can keep topping what came before but they always do! ‘Gorilla’ is heart warming, thought provoking and it’s also extremely funny! The children were roaring at times! Absolutely loved it! If you haven’t been to Polka then this is the show to start with, it won’t disappoint! Both my 1 year old AND three year old didn’t move a muscle as they sat captivated throughout and the only jigging about occurred when they had to dance to the fabulous song!
I have not been paid to write this post but I was sent tickets to the performance mentioned in the post for the purpose of review.