Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Ned, What's Under Your Bed?

...is a play for children by Jeremy Mason which had its premiere performance today. Illo for Ned What is under your bedI enjoyed the performance immensely, which I say quite aside from the obvious bias that Tigana was cast as one of the bedbugs.

I was already impressed with Mason (and fellow actors Andy Jenkins and Jamie Dunsdon) as instructors at the Empress Theater summer drama camps, and as writers/actors in the Empress Theater's summer series plays. I had been struck by how much more effective this camp had been for Tigana than some of the others she had attended. Part of that was the camp's structure, which incorporated the children's performances into a Vaudville night along with skits and musical numbers by adult performers -- so that kids got to perform in front of a real paying audience, rather than just a room full of relatives, as is the usual conclusion of these sorts of summer camps. Furthermore, Tigana had the opportunity of going to the Empress Theater's summer plays and seeing her instructors actually acting which allowed her to "connect the dots" in a way she wasn't able to with the other camps, where the instructors were just another group of "teachers" to her. But mostly I was impressed by the synergism of the group of young actors/writers/instructors that Stephen Delano had managed to recruit for the Summer program. You could almost see the creative sparks flying between these people, and I loved that Tigana got to see and benefit from that.

So when Jeremy invited Tigana to take part in this play, we were delighted. This was Tigana's first opportunity to be in a real play run with multiple performances and to perform in a theater in Lethbridge. Indeed, Tigana would be in the children's play that we normally attend as part of our Boxing Day afternoon tradition.

Watching Jeremy rehearse the kids (16 of them), I was again blown away by what an exceptional teacher Jeremy (along with the rest of his gang) is. As a Faculty of Education professor, I have unrealistically high expectations teachers, but Jeremy is a natural. He had structured the play so that he was always with the kids when they were on stage; he explained how each scene worked in the sort of concrete ways I struggle to get my student teachers to aim for; and he has this natural charisma that makes kids love him. It was a pleasure to watch.

So...the end product this afternoon lived up to my expectations...it was a great kid's play, well performed by all. I was, of course, most interested in Tigana's performance, but enjoyed the play and the acting for its own sake as well. Most amazing of all, the play kept Kasia's (now age 3) undivided attention... something even a new episode of My Little Pony has yet to succeed in doing. And Kasia totally 'got' the play -- she kept saying to her mom, "That man is really mean!" whenever the villian (ablely played by Andy, who has I believe one of the best evil laughs in the business) was on stage.

All that remains is to see how Tigana copes with 9 performances of the same play, including several dates where she is doing both the matinee and evening performances -- a very different experience than the single school or end of camp performance. So far, so good -- she has already noticed the difference between performing for a full audience this afternoon, and a much smaller audience this evening....we subsequently had a long discussion about 'energy'. I am so proud of Tigana, and so pleased with Jeremy and his crew that I my gushing at everyone involved has become positively annoying... I'll have to try to tone it done as the play continues....

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