Last week my son and packed our duds and made for the Big Apple. A mommy and son adventure complete with trains, performances, playground time, ice cream treats and more. The reason for our jaunt up NJ Transit's Northeast Regional line was to see both Treehouse Shakers' Hatched and Windmill Theatre's Plop. Treehouse Shakers performed their new piece for the littlest of audience members at Ailey Studios and Windmill Theatre performed at The New Victory Theater. But why stop with theatre? We are in NYC! So I scored us a sweet deal on boutique hotel (thanks, BookIt) in Midtown East and made sure we had down time for cartoons and playing at Madison Square Park.
Mitch colors before the performance at The New Victory
I admit, one of my favorite parts about my job is that at least for a few more years at least, I can share my TYA knowledge and connections with my almost four year old. As my mom likes to say, he's a really cultured kid. He was a cultured baby too. He's been to IPAY and a few conferences and retreats and mingled with artists since he was 3 months old. He's seen several theater pieces at the New Vic studios, seen Zany Umbrella Circus and Treehouse Shakers twice now. We see what we can, what's most appropriate for him, and we schlep far and wide. It's especially great now that he's SO verbal to hear his recounting of the experiences.
The above photos I took after the performance. Kids and their families sit front and center and have an opportunity to truly experience life on an American farm. It's told through the eyes of a baby chick that has just hatched and we watch her learn to walk, take in her surroundings from roosters, cows, lambs, and birds. Sprinkled throughout the narrative area chances for the children to pet, feed, and hold baby animals. The puppetry and scenery are just exquisite. Perhaps one of my favorite elements of the performance is the live music. I never would have visualized this piece with live music and yet it gave it a whole other layer of stimulation and authenticity. I was truly touched at how beautiful this show was and how utterly American it felt to me. I see loads of international performances for this audience that are phenomenal as well but Treehouse Shakers captured what it means to be an American in this piece via something as authentic as a farm, and more importantly, a child's first visit to a farm.
These pictures were taken after Plop. Plop is based on the picture book The Terrible Plop by Ursula Dubosarsky and the Australian Windmill Theatre produced and performed this adorable piece for preschoolers. The "plop" is the sound of apples falling from the sky (a fabulous contraption) into a bucket of water and making a rather loud plopping sound, scaring away two little rabbits. Filled with terrific audio and engaging visuals, this blends fairy tale with fun. My son spent about ten minutes after the show playing with all the musical instruments.
A few video snippets to follow of each show but for now suffice it to say, both were audience favorites and make anyone working in our Theater for Young Audiences field proud -- this is exactly the sort of work that should be noticed, curated, funded, and supported. It's thoughtful, meaningful, interactive and fun. Kudos to both companies.
Here are a few more from the trip.