Children’s theatre is often disregarded as something simply to keep the kids entertained and relegated to the lower rungs on the theatre hierarchy ladder, somewhere near student and (so-named) community theatre. [Side note: it’s often in these three categories where you find the most inventive and surprising theatrical experiences.]
All who work in the theatre industry understand the importance of theatre for youngsters – if we get them liking theatre now they’ll likely grow up to be future audiences. But there’s another importance in children’s theatre: what it does for its current audiences before they grow up.
Exposure to creative activities encourages understanding and empathy. It engenders inquisitiveness and a questioning mind. It requires patience and problem-solving, negotiation, compromise, humility. And who doesn’t want that ideal world filled with feeling, caring, clever, honest people… right?
Which is why it was an encouraging experience seeing the children’s reactions during the Le Rêve De Lucie premiere on Tuesday afternoon, presented by the Cie Mille Et Une Façons company from Reunion Island. The kids were enthralled from the start and at each development of the story, sweet small voices yelped questions of concern for Lucie and the creatures in her dreams.
In a society where (privileged) children are exposed to flash-bang-crash-glitz TV shows, intent on cultivating consumerist conformists, it’s comforting to witness a crowd of littlies so thoroughly engrossed in a calm, distilled, measured, non-verbal puppet show.
Puppeteers Florence Laroche and Elodie Philippini use a beautifully designed and simply clever set to bring to life Lucie’s world, where scary monsters prevent her from reaching dreamland. The message is clear: face your fears and find your inner strength. But Le Rêve De Lucie also shows Lucie being afraid, shows that it’s alright to be afraid, to seek comfort, to need a helping hand.
Luckily for Lucie she has a loving granny who teaches her what to do, to take agency and transform her nightmares into dreams. Luckily for us, the story is humorous and quirky with a good dose of scariness, wonderment and discovery.
It’s a whimsical, short and simple story that the kids loved but like good theatre should, it had the adults as transfixed, and chuckling along too. So in the spirit of nurturing the dreams of the next generation and inspiring imaginative thinking, take a child (and yourself) to see Le Rêve De Lucie.
– Sarah Roberson
Le Rêve De Lucie is at the City Hall until 08 October. A free performance for children (adults pay R30) will take place at Gugu S’Thebe on 05 October at 12.00. Click here for more info and bookings.
Company: Cie Mille et une Façons
Writer: Anne Marcel
Puppet Designer: Annick Hamon
Performer-Puppeteers: Florence Laroche and Elodie Philippini