Thursday, May 26, 2005

Calgary’s Children’s Festival

Set out for Toronto for the annual ASAC conference, at which Mary and I are presenting. First leg of the trip is to Calgary where we stayed over night at the Coast Plaza. (The Plaza essentially pays you to stay over in Calgary, since they not only provide free shuttle service to the airport, but free parking for up to two weeks; parking at the airport for that long would cost considerably more than the one night’s accommodation.)

Wednesday night also happened to be the Children’s Festival in Calgary, so I took Tigana to Shona Reppe puppet production of Cinderella (while Mary put Kasia to bed).Enroute, our C-Train was delayed by the passage of the Queen's motorcade on the way to the airport, so Tigana even got to see the Queen zoom by, an unexpected bonus! We nevertheless arrived early and got seats at the end of the front row. When Shona made her entrance dressed as a maid, she stopped in front of me, and made a production of dusting me with her feather duster as if I were a piece of furniture, then ‘spit polished‘ my glasses; she then dusted Tigana’s face before going on stage. It was a great personalized beginning to an excellent show: I was impressed by how expressive the puppets were, the more so given that the puppeteer was on view at all times, and that the two step sisters were merely a pair of lady’s gloves. I had no problem focusing on Cinderella and ignoring the puppeteer looming over her, as the puppeteer created a multilayered comedy/drama out of a few sound cues and a self-contained table-sized set. I enjoyed some of the sly innuendo for the parents in the audience, while Tigana and other kids laughed themselves silly over the childish slapstick and gags, and we all empathized with the plight of the plucky Cinderella. Highly recommended if it shows up in a venue near you.

The next morning we all went to the Tom Chapin concert--we again sat in the front row, this time so Kasia could dance to the music, which she did with typical toddler abandon. The music was great: children folk with idealistic lyrics, but with an added level of complexity to the music itself that would make it tolerable even given the inevitable repetition one gets with any kid’s record. (As an aside, I can also recommend the Fisher Price lullaby CD as both Kasia and Tigana go to sleep to it every night and I still like it—a surprisingly excellent arrangement and production given its brand name marketing.) Highlight of the concert was the use of a homemade didjeridoo (construction recipe available on Tom’s website) Tigana went up after the concert and spoke to Mr. Chapman, which again personalized the experience for us.

We then took the C-Train back to the Coast Plaza, took the shuttle to the Airport, where Tigana got to go one round of the time travel simulator in the space port (a recent addition to the airport which combines avaition museum with various rides etc --I understand they even have day camps) before we eventually boarded our plane for Toronto.

The flight out was blessedly uneventful (the thought of Kasia having a seizure at 40,000 feet is not a happy one) if tiring, and we managed to get to the Delta and settle in by about 10PM our time (midnight, Toronto.) Tomorrow the conference.

No comments: