Sunday, January 24, 2010

Apropos Live Theatre

The Book of Everything

My daughters (8 and 12-soon to be 13 y.o.) were initiated to live theatre last night. We saw The Book of Everything at the Belvoir St Theatre. There is much to write about the experience and keeping the focus in this blog will be a challenge.

The play was fantastic: the actors, scenes, visual and sound effects and the script were all staged and directed most effectively. It was very entertaining and thought-provoking. In the course of 2 1/2 hours, it became clear why Thomas, the 9-soon-to-be-10y.o. main protagonist, wantED to be happy when he grows up....and what happiness means. In this context: it was articulated by Mrs Van Amersfoot --> happiness is not to fear anything.

My eldest loves performing and has had considerable experience in the amateur league, including being part of the Hornsby Musical Society's Annie, when she was 9. It was good for her to see how professional productions are different, yet the same. It was good for her to see how thoughts and emotions can be conveyed using sounds, lights, music, props, body movements, facial expressions and spoken lines. Among my favourites was how 'floating on air due to happiness' was depicted.

Live theatre is interactive: actors provoke and take in cues from the audience. Audience laughter, clapping, gasps and silences become part of the theatrical performance. In this show, we got to help enact the 'plague of frogs' by throwing frogs (green ping-pong balls) and making frog noises. As part of the closing scenes, some kids were invited to the stage. My two girls were among them; frankly, my 8 y.o. looked flabbergasted but she went anyway. The other was, as mentioned, a natural performer so she was in her element.

Live theatre is busy: there is so much to look at. There are no zoom shots, but spotlights help the audience to focus. Last night, we could see how Eliza's leather-leg was made squeaky as she walked. We saw actors come and go. We saw scenes transform...the use of a gigantic book for scene changes was creative, effective, simple and amazingly good.

My youngest said at the end, "Can we watch it again?" Obviously, she enjoyed it. She has only known movies and dvds that can be seen over and over again, at the touch of a button! Even if it wasn't a question of money (live theatre is more expensive than going to the movies) the experience could not be easily replicated. Mind you, I find it amazing that actors (stage crew, etc) churn out performances with presumably the same level of quality for each show; I guess that's what you pay for.

Anyway, it was a most enjoyable experience, highly-recommended....may there be more.

1 comment:

  1. It was brilliant wasn't it? :-)

    So cool that both the girls got to be part of the final scene!