Monday, March 21, 2011

Notes from Justine-MORE Three By the Sea!

Notes from Justine -Three By the Sea

Having seen Three By the Sea two times now in performance, I’ve realized that the gestalt of this combination of stories is an ideal introduction to theatre for children. There are so many things they are being exposed to here: it’s like sneaking vegetables into the dessert mix! While they watch the charming stories they learn to suspend disbelief and see fabric (or umbrellas, or balloons) as water, to decipher intent through behavior, to appreciate the difference an atmosphere can have on how you interpret the individual elements of a play and how to appreciate the rhythm and flow in storytelling, not to mention simply being introduced to the great theatrical tradition of story theatre.

I really find myself enjoying each play within the play for different reasons. Working backwards, I’ll start at the end:

Foghorn Franny is a crowd pleaser. With its modern characters and sharp clear tone, it gets laughs easily while supporting the most complex story and message of the trio. The oldest audience members get a lot out of this one (both adults and tweens) because the subplot about bullying is clearly and dramatically explored and resolved. Everyone in the audience is held tight in the grips of the plot and even the youngest audience members maintain the hush required for the few (I think it’s actually two) brief moments of reflection. Coming last in the running order it is well chosen in its modern language and depiction as it leaves the audience feeling happy and thoroughly entertained at the end.

The second piece, Coyote’s Moon, is ideal for the central role in this production in part due to its simplicity. There’s not a lot of story here and so we are able to just sit back and enjoy the puppetry, lighting, water (umbrella) ballet, and characterizations. We love Lil’ Rabbit, we fear Coyote (a little), we enjoy the lights and the trickery…and …we’re done!

Appropriately, while our audience’s minds are freshest they are presented with the most complex piece. We are asked to immerse ourselves in the world, the otherness of the mythical Ireland of old. We meet characters from the town of Gollerus and enjoy their quirkiness while sensing what a stranger in their midst might experience in such a self-contained environment. The lilting lyrical language pulls us along in the story while the theatrical elements, such as mermaid costume, Shadow Puppet plays, and ongoing bits of business from comic cap-snatching to ominous umbrella-opening, devised by super-creative director Julia Martin, help keep our young audience engaged throughout.

Enjoy the spinach brownies!

Justine Lambert
Founding Artistic Director

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Notes from Justine- Three By The Sea

Notes from Justine -Three By the Sea

Three By the Sea
is opening this Saturday, March 5th at noon. I will be there with bells on with my family! I have been lucky enough to be a fly on the wall at three rehearsals for this complex, elegant bit of story theatre. This show manages to be both lyrical and fast paced. A study in the use of complexity in the service of simplicity this production uses multiple theatrical elements to tell its three enchanting stories. The stories are simple and sweet, funny and timeless.

Paddy and the Mermaid” tells of an ordinary man who traps a mermaid. He learns that some things can’t be held by force, even if they are loved; perhaps especially if they are loved.

Coyote’s Moon” is a classic tale of brains over brawn. In this case the brains belong to one sweet little bunny and the brawn to a coyote in a cowboy hat!

Foghorn Franny” is a take on the idea that something seen as a weakness or even a fault can turn out to be a heroic strength. This story also addresses the timely theme of teasing and exclusion ever so gently and resolves with the teaser realizing the error of her ways.

This trio of tales comes across with clarity and a touch of the poetic and is wonderfully served by puppetry, music, lighting effects, shadow puppets, clever costuming, a beautiful set and even dancing umbrellas!
Speaking of those umbrellas, it’s worth mentioning that each play involves a body of water and each body of water is uniquely staged. As often seems to happen, the creativity and imagination involved in children’s theatre brings out the best (and hardest work!) in the creative team and cast. This group is no exception. Under the direction of Julia Martin this team has been in overdrive to realize the imaginings of playwright Donna Latham!

Justine Lambert
Founding Artistic Director