Monday, 9 April 2012

Ruby Red Tells Tales - theatre for 3 year olds

Growing up, going to the theatre was a really big thing for me. From a young age I was obsessed by the ballet, and my mum regularly treated me to performances at the New Theatre in Cardiff. This moved onto contemporary dance as our new next-door neighbour was part of the Diversions Dance Company. And at fifteen I finally tried my hand at acting, and thoroughly enjoyed my experiences.

Whilst Seren has witnessed (and been mesmerised) by 'In the Night Garden- Live' one of the things I have most been looking forward to about moving home was the amount of excellent theatres we have locally and that Seren is now old enough to have her first experiences.

Seren was lucky enough to be gifted tickets for "Ruby Red Tells Tales" for her birthday.
"Ruby Red" is described as a musical play from director Sarah Argent and Theatr Iolo, and part of Sherman Cymru's new programme.

Sherman Cymru reopened in February this year following an extensive rebuilding programme. I was hugely excited about taking Seren to see this play, and it meant I got to check out a theatre which I had been quite familiar with in my youth.

We met with a friend for lunch beforehand, and the Sherman bears no resemblance to me of the theatre it left behind. It protrudes from the street, making it instantly recognisable, and as you step into the foyer it is light, airy and clean. From a rose-tinted spectacles (and 10+years) perspective, I liked the old building, but the new building is, to me, how theatres should be. A welcoming space, catering for all. Not like the New Theatre of my youth where you dressed up and felt on your best behaviour. Sherman Cymru achieves that universal aim of making the arts accessible to all.

In terms of the performance itself- Wow! I was taken back to being as memorised as ever. The play has only two actors, playing "Ruby" and "Ella". It was musical theatre, it was physical theatre, and it was two actors keeping people, and more importantly children, entranced for almost an hour.

I am always astounded by how much it takes to be a good actor, being reliant on one other person, and to have their trust in you, is a huge undertaking.
To achieve this with theatre aimed at 3-5 year olds- awesome.

In terms of the play itself, it is really difficult to explain, apart from to say it is magical and enchanting. It loosely follows fairytales as children might recite them.
And there is good reason for this, as described to us on the way in, the words of the play were all devised by 3 and 4 year olds, writing their own stories, and then "mismashed" to create this play. An absolutely fantastic concept for keeping little ones engaged.

Seren did a lot better than I thought.
The play was aimed at 3-5 year olds, and Seren turned three a fortnight or so ago so it was going to be interesting to see how she would get on.
On entering the theatre children are encouraged to sit on the 'grass' and adults sit in the theatre setting. Seren regularly looked round for me, and on occasion came up to find me (cue very loud footsteps in a quiet-ish setting), but she didn't stay, it was although she wanted to make sure she had the option if she wanted it.
Seren also stood up to watch parts of the performance (as well as lying down to look at the ceiling lights). I sort of appreciate where she was coming from, in enjoying the performance. Sometimes, it seems a shame to to keep children sitting when they want to explore- but this is the joy of parenting that I must learn!

We definitely loved Seren's first trip to the theatre, and are looking forward to a few more future plays.

For more information and dates for Ruby Red Tells Tales check out Theatr Iolo's website.

For more information about the family programme at Sherman Cymru, check out this link.
We've already got out tickets booked for White, aimed at 2-4 year olds, and currently on a UK tour.

This post has been written because we enjoyed the experience, it is not sponsored.

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