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Archive for May, 2017

The kids walked in expecting to see the set all ready and the show about to start, but they were in for a surprise. What they walked in upon was the sight of the stage in a state of undress, with boxes and other things scattered across the stage, and stage hands busy with their various tasks.

What was going on? Were we in the right theatre? Did we get the venue or time wrong?

Have we come to the right show? Catching a glimpse of the backstage action (Photo credit: iTheatre)

Turns out, it was iTheatre‘s innovative way of giving kids (and their parents) a glimpse into unseen aspects of theatre. Those stage hands? They were really the actors taking on the role of stage hands. They were actors pretending to be stage hands who were pretending to be actors. I thought that was quite an amusing twist on itself.

The twist went further when one of the backstage crew said they were in the midst of preparing for the show, Poultry Tales! What a minute, weren’t we already watching it?

I had been wondering how iTheatre would weave the three different tales into a single, coherent show. Using the premise of the backstage crew secretly trying on costumes and living out their acting dreams, iTheatre managed to tie the three tales together quite well.

Maggie, the stage manager, and her assistant take pains to train their newbie interns the rudiments of backstage work. In the process, the audience is treated to the three tales, and introduced to a whole bunch of terms that performers use for the various items found around the stage – fly bar, cyclorama, flat, legs (no, not the legs we walk on), hand prop, etc. I thought it was wonderful to introduce these terms to the kids. I especially loved how as each part of the stage was introduced, the stage set slowly came together to be nicely put together, as one normally sees it when walking into the theatre. It’s not everyday that you get to see a stage set get pieced together right before you eyes.

Maggie (in red), her assistant (in brown), and the intern. (Photo credit: iTheatre)

Anyway, the flow from pre-show segment to the actual show was so seamless that my boys weren’t quite sure that the show had actually started already! I had to whisper to them that the show had already started! I guess they were expecting the actors to don more elaborate costumes and such (the actors were wearing simple overalls in different colours). That was one of the reasons why I liked the first story – Chicken Licken – the best. It showed the kids that all you need to portray a character was just a mask. And with just a change of mask, you can change your character. The four actors played six characters! Some characters had to switch between their masks and were basically talking to themselves :)

Acting out Chicken Licken with just masks! (Photo credit: iTheatre)

More than that though, the story-telling for Chicken Licken was fast-paced and entertaining! From the time the show ended, and every day since, one of my kids will say, complete with exaggerated actions, “I saw it with my eyes, I heard it with my ears, and some of it fell on my tail!”

In the Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs, while I thought the gentleman took a little too much pleasure in thinking about how to murder the poor innocent goose, it did drive home the lesson that we should not be consumed by greed. In terms of props, the kids were tickled at how the goose spewed ribbons instead of blood, when she was killed. Though the lead up to the kill was filled with tension, the end was humourous without losing the plot.

Evil plans are a-hatching in the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg (Photo credit: iTheatre)

The final story was about The Little Red Hen. Her friends all swore to be there for her whenever she needed their help, but whenever she asked for it, they came up with one excuse or another and ran away. She did everything on her own, and enjoyed the fruits of her own labour. Her friends on the other hand, learnt that they should keep their promises all the time, and not pick and choose when to keep it. I also tend to think that for this story, the moral really is that if you want something done, you just got to do it yourself. Hopefully we have friends who are more dependable that we can count on of course!

Little Red Hen and her unreliable friends (Photo credit: iTheatre)

My three-year old may not have understood the backstage bit, but she definitely enjoyed the stories told, and had a good time laughing at the funny segments (and getting appropriately worried for the goose when it was going to get killed). The boys were better able to appreciate the backstage elements, and they certainly enjoyed the story-telling as well.

Poultry Tales in on until Sunday, 14 May. Do hurry and get your tickets from SISTIC! Enjoy a post-exam treat for all the family, or end the weekend with a Mother’s Day outing to the theatre. Good lessons taught, lots of backstage things to see and learn, and overall an enjoyable show.

Don’t miss your chance to catch iTheatre, because this might very well be their last production. They have unfortunately lost their source of funding, and will not be able to continue for the time being. iTheatre is seeking funding, and if you or others you know are able to help, please do give them your support. You can find out more about how to help iTheatre here.

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