Wednesday, September 27, 2017

An Ad-Libbing Gruffalo

It has been a packed couple of weeks and most evenings have disappeared in a fog of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, followed by sod-it-I'm-going-to-bed. No apoogies for not blogging instead of taking every available opportunity to sleep. I have reached that stage of pregnancy where the average night involves anything up to 4 sleep-befuddled staggers to the loo, and the near-vertical tower of every spare pillow in the house that is required to stave off vomit-inducing heartburn also makes it ridiculously difficult to get to sleep in the first place (or second/third/fourth on my return from the toilet). That is a lot of hyphens in one paragraph. I'm not apologising for those either. 

Despite all that, we have managed some really cool stuff in the last few weeks. If I try to write about all of them at once we'll end up with a dissertation, so you'll get them in installments. This one is set nearly two weeks ago.

We introduced Adam to the theatre for the first time at a performance of The Gruffalo. This was a schools' performance with a big group of other home educators, who stood out just a teeny bit (!) next to the uniformed school groups. Both boys were hailed by friends before we even got into the building and by the time we got up the stairs they had both disappeared to hang out with various kids they knew, chattering like starlings, while we grown-ups drank coffee at the bar and enjoyed watching the long lines of identically-uniformed schoolchildren being herded to their respective doors. Those of us who have ever worked in schools looked on with a large dose of sympathy, though we had to laugh at the staff member insisting that her charges could not possibly talk while they walked (they seemed to be managing perfectly well but maybe there had been a near miss with a lamp post on the way in and Miss was feeling twitchy about the impending accident report paperwork). I wonder if the National Curriculum covers breathing and walking simultaneously? Presumably not until Key Stage 2. 

The performance was brilliant, very funny and interactive. Adam was intrigued by the changing colour of the sky on the backdrop (I love how small children notice details adults don't clock at all!) He was also fascinated to realise that the words were the ones he knows. I was instructed to put the audio book on as soon as we got back to the car. 

As with many children's theatre shows we get down here in the sticks, small budgets make for a very creative approach, and we had a good discussion about it afterwards. Daniel noted that there were just 3 actors covering multiple parts, and the staging was very simple and multi-purpose (he particularly liked the bright orange butterfly that was flown across the stage by the actors at various times and then parked in special slots on the trees, disguised as a pair of leaves). We talked about the costumes (also simple, multi-purpose and very clever), which ones we liked and which we didn't. I was interested that he had noticed the Gruffalo changing his mind about running up into the audience when he saw a little girl clinging to her teacher in terror, and ad-libbing his way back down and along the front row instead. Daniel felt this was very kind and considerate. It was done extremely smoothly so I was surprised he had realised it had happened. 

The performance had started late thanks to several schools who had either arrived late or taken too much time walking-not-talking to their seats. As a result, they were all herded out at top speed at the end in order to pile into coaches and get back to school by 3:15. We HEers had come well armed with snacks to get through the inevitable delay (and take advantage of the lights still being up). At the end, several of us took refuge from the manic herding on the stairs and relaxed with a drink in the cafe again, then nipped out the back door and admired the fountains on the way back to the car park. 

Anyone would think home educating was fun...


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