Stone and Water brought the "Tiny!" creative play space back to the Fringe. As usual, it was located between the play area and the miniature train in the Pavilion Gardens. Aimed at nursery and infant children it provides paper, pens, scissors, fabric, toy sea creatures and loads of encouragement for children to make their own creatures for an "underwater" world. Sharks and mermaids seemed the most popular creatures while I was there.
Gordon Mclellan and Sarah Males are warm and welcoming and when children are shy or timid they allow time for the kids to grow accustomed to the space in the arms of their parents and decide for themselves how they want to participate. The play space has a fabric rock with knitted sea creatures and plants which can be used as a backdrop for the parents to take photos of their children's efforts before they take them home.
The event was a lovely addition to a sunny weekend in the Pavilion gardens.
Jay Foreman provided a very hot audience with the most hilarious time!
He had a warm rapport with his audience. Jay exuded personality from his expressive face right down to his active toes. Yes his songs were disgusting but oh so funny. He involved both the adults and the children with his set that cracked along at an enthusiastic pace. The children loved him, with loads of laughing and excruciating groans at some of his more vile offerings. It really was a joy to hear the involvement in the Rotunda.
Children love Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes and the children here today loved Jay Foreman’s Disgusting Songs’ which were witty, fast paced and ‘totally awesome’ (the totally awesome quote was from a 9 year old member of the audience who was still singing the Bim, Bim, Bim song at bedtime!) What a shame Jay was only here for the one show.
This was just right for a sunny Saturday afternoon in festive Buxton. Raising many smiles, the Mad Hatter’s musical production of Peter Pan went with a swing.
This was Peter Pan played straight, the Darling children, Peter Pan and the Lost Boys in Neverland, Captain Hook (doubling Mr Darling, as is the tradition) and his pirate crew, Tinkerbell, Tiger Lily, ferocious fights, the ticking clock of the unseen crocodile, the audience clapping to revive Tinkerbell (of course we believe in fairies), and the touching relationship between Wendy and the Lost Boys. No one flew, but the idea was kept before us, and eventually we saw the small silhouettes of Peter, Wendy, John & Michael cross the face of the moon, undoubtedly in flight.
The story is presented here as a musical, a performing challenge met by all the young players with verve, and with considerable skill by the leading performers. The vigour of the band meant that sometimes the quieter voices of the younger performers were hard to hear, but for the most part the music and the text were put over convincingly by all the young actors and singers, infectiously involved in what they were doing. There is not space here to mention everyone who merits it, and no surnames are given in the programme, but Peter Pan (Annie), Wendy (Molly), and Mr Darling/Captain Hook (Caitlin) were excellent, and Hook’s sidekick Smee (Rosie) was amusing as well as capable of belting out a good tune with the best of them. The chorus transformed from Lost Boys to Pirates and back with ease and conviction, with musical, dance and fight routines filling the stage. Tinkerbell (Charlotte) is a dancer, and her dancer’s style of movement set her off neatly from the mortals, making her wistful jealously of Peter’s regard for Wendy the more touching.
The actors/choir are children from various schools throughout the High Peak, gathered together and trained by Clare O’Neill, peripatetic music teacher and evident powerhouse. She has had children pass though the group to go on to professional musical careers, as well as many who do it simply for fun. They perform at various venues through the year, including performing in operas for the Buxton Festival. Today’s group go from primary age to school leavers, with even the smallest given a few independent lines, and several very young persons carrying off starring roles with aplomb.
There are two more performances on Sunday 8th July – it is family friendly and also adult cheering, highly recommended for all but the most jaded (does Buxton in Festival time have those?).
Parents of children under sevens ( including those with special needs) who can get to Buxton tomorrow morning (Sunday 8th) at 11am will be giving their offspring and themselves one of the most lasting and transformative gifts possible. Make it a priority! Change your plans now!! Forget swimming or the park and spend 50 minutes alongside your child, participating in in a rare, precious and hugely enjoyable experience. This is a beautiful piece of children's theatre with harmonious & evocative singing, tactile fabrics and clever characters, all of which combine to engage little people in a delightful story, complete with signing. More than merely entertaining, this exceptional, amazing (rightly) award-winning show has been on the road for two years and has brought both delight and hugely valuable lessons to over 3,000 young people. To be able to identify, express and learn to manage human emotions in a calm way from such a young age could transform not only individual lives, families and communities but drastically save our beloved NHS millions in Mental Health Services at a time when an unprecedented number of young people and teens are struggling. In my view this show should be a mandatory intervention for all preschool children and their parents: Education, Health and Arts funders should get behind this kind of innovative and effective work.
It was truly a privilege to witness the effect on the small group of very young children (and on their parents/grandparents) who made the smart choice to assemble upstairs at the Old Clubhouse this morning.
Despite the heat, I watched very young children, including a months' old baby, choose to pay rapt attention, listen, absorb, be delighted and educated. They were treated with such authentic gentleness and respect that they responded eagerly and appropriately, they didn't even mind becoming covered in bubbles! There was no screaming, whinging or whining! Yes, for 50 minutes! The energy in the room, even at joyful, active times was beautifully calm throughout. No, the young people were neither gagged nor restrained by their parents! In fact it was sweet to see them connect so lovingly with their siblings and carers.
It was remarkable to see how the young people instantly recognised the characters' feelings beneath their behaviour and realised how ineffective panicking is - all revealed through the delightfully acted story, which I won't spoil here.
Even the underlying neurochemistry of the show was simply explained and linked to the story and the actors' own parental experiences with lots of creative and imaginative ways and tips offered to get youngsters to breathe and move when they are upset! I am a little sad that my own children are now beyond the age of 13, up to which age the sound of my voice would have subconsciously calmed them.
Completing the experience with the opportunity to play with ribbon, fabrics, toys and do some fantastic drumming (even the baby and shyer ones had a go! ), everyone left, reluctantly, smiling and content. If we could have measured the natural endorphins before and after the show, I know what the results would have been.
So don't be afraid: be willing to be delighted and heartened by what is possible with young and open minds and hearts within our families, creatively and compassionately facilitated by these two talented and passionate therapists. I know I was.