‘Children’s entertainment’ – two little words that make most parents reach for the paracetamol. There is, however, an alternative to the crash, bang, wallop approach, and an increasing number of theatre productions aimed at a younger audience are emerging.
On Saturday we went along to see ‘White’, aimed at 2-4 year olds, at the recently re-opened Perth Theatre. Children sit on cushions around a platform where the performance takes place, and the audience is immersed in a soothing world of white – the milky, neutral tone dominating every surface. Best friends Cotton and Wrinkle live here in their alabaster cocoon, banishing any hint of colour to the dustbin. White is what they know, it feels safe, and they wouldn’t want it any other way…or would they?
The clever use of timing, surprise, suspense, music and humour has toddlers completely entranced, eyes wide with wonder. White is an original work by Scotland’s very own Catherine Wheels Theatre company, and it’s been on tour since a debut performance at the 2010 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where it scooped several prestigious awards, including a Fringe First. It’s been performed 1437 times to date, with audiences young and old from every corner of the globe lapping up it’s charm. Even Sarah Jessica Parker, who took her young twins along, described it as “The best forty minutes of my life.”
One thing I’ve learned since becoming a parent is that story telling can be a real skill – and the team behind White have it down to a fine art. The clever use of timing, surprise, suspense, music and humour has toddlers completely entranced, eyes wide with wonder. It’s a very visual experience which transcends language barriers, carefully choreographed so as to capture the imagination of it’s young audience, without any sensory overload.
I won’t spoil it for anyone yet to go along, but safe to say the magic of colour reveals itself in the most spectacular way, which reaches it’s crescendo with the audience being doused in multi-coloured confetti (most of which Freya scooped into her boots!). I even got to (very briefly) be part of the action when asked to take a pic on Cotton’s (white, of course) camera. The characters were very happy to meet their young fans after the show – and weren’t short of selfie requests.
Like all great children’s productions there’s a subtle undertone, and if White had a moral of the story is would be this; don’t be afraid of the unknown, be brave, and dare to be different. If you’re sceptical about children’s theatre, I’d suggest you take a leaf out of Cotton and Wrinkle’s book, and let a little colour into your life!
Horsecross have several other children’s theatre productions coming up, including;
A science fiction story telling performance, which takes it’s young audience on a journey through art, science and philosophy with a very special Ape. See more>
A show about…animals! Big ones, little ones, wild ones, tame ones. It’s also about our emotions, and told using real and imagined stories from 6 year olds, illustrated though music, dance and film. See more>
Baba Yaga plays her music too loudly, eats jelly babies with her mouth open, and is the antithesis of the main character Vaseline, who lives a quiet life on the third floor of an apartment block eating noodles and polishing her spoon collection. See more>
*Photography by Douglas McBride and Jassy Earl Photography
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