Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Since about Christmas I seem to have spent almost two hours every Thursday up at Jas's school helping with this year's choir/theatre production.

I helped towards the end of last year's production (the Pied Piper) and this year volunteered myself earlier.  This has meant a whole lot more involvement than I'd imagined because the piece this year is an original and Thursday was the the first time it had ever been shown.

The original plan had been (so I believe) to do an African themed play/musical to which there was already a script.  This original plan was hijacked by a couple of professionals from a local theatre.  They had seen the Pied Piper production in 2011 and thought it would be great to get more involved with the actual development of the piece this year.  At the first meeting they suggested the writing of a play about a space ship landing in a school playground.  A daunting challenge, the story line would have to be developed and script would need writing, music and lyrics sourced, costumes and scenery including a space ship would be required.  But with the support of professional theatre people who would come along and work with the children also it could be fun.  In the second meeting involving the school, the 4 willing parents and the theatre a schedule was organised of when we would all get together and what needed to be done by when.

I think the theatre professionals came to one other meeting, or maybe two.  It's certainly not the support I had envisaged when I heard that the theatre wanted to be involved from the get go.  However their lack of commitment has not prevented the school putting on an amazing show.

Thursday was the "premiere", it sold out.  Friday was the performance to the rest of the school, who all seemed to enjoy it, then Sunday was another performance which also sold out and finally on Wednesday is the performance at the theatre (maybe the theatre professionals will make it to that performance).

When the story line was first discussed (way back when there was snow on the ground) I remember thinking to myself that it sounded dreadful.  A space ship lands on a playground and then takes off again with some children on board...wasn't that rather like the Pied Piper with aliens?  I wasn't inspired by the suggested material for the alien costumes either, one mother had sourced some golden bacofoil type stuff, I have really no idea what it's main constituent is, it rips like paper and has to be the crackliest substance known to man.  When it was first produced I voiced the concern that it might be rather noisy offstage when 20+ wriggly eight year olds were clad in it, they went ahead with it anyway.

It has to have been a great learning process for the children as they've been heavily involved with all of the production.  Role playing to decide how best the aliens should move and talk and developing a lot of the scenes through play too, after all, who better to know what a child would do on a space ship in flight than a child?

The person who deserves the utmost respect however is the music teacher Herr B, there are a couple of songs within the production that he wrote himself, one in particular brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it, it is so sad and poignant, these eight children have just witnessed their friends disappearing into the sky and no-one they turn to for help will believe them, it really does raise the hairs on yours arms.

The show also has nine pieces of pre-recorded music and sound effects that have to be played, this delightful job was given to me.  We put the music onto my iphone and plugged it into the mixing desk, that way when the kids jumped on the sprung gym floor we wouldn't have the issue of the CD jumping (it happened) worked perfectly in the dress rehearsal and the rehearsal before that.  The premiere though?  With a hall packed full of parents?  The sound kept cutting out and everyone's eyes turned to me, accusingly.  I could see them all thinking to themselves that I was pressing the wrong button but I wasn't.  Trial and error and two performances showed that it was the mixing desk and specifically the volume slider on that channel, phew, exoneration.

It's been fun to be involved with such a project and I don't know if I'm happy or sad that next year I wont be involved because Jas will be at a new school...although the rest of the team seem to think that they'll call me and make me come along.  I wonder how much effort it is here to change one's number and go ex directory?

No comments: