I had the opportunity to be at the opening of Pollyanna Children's Theatre's 'In My Own Backyard' at The Long Center this morning with Jack, and I am so incredibly glad we went! I was a bit anxious about the performance initially, as Jack is currently in an I'm-scared-of-absolutely-everything phase, but it went swimmingly!
Once we arrived, we waited with other families out in the lobby, where the children were able to play with stuffed animals and color on white butcher paper. Though we didn't wait very long before one of the performers - Nathaniel Reed - came on with his guitar and ushered us into the room, Jack was perfectly content to sit and color in the meantime:
Once the guitar player/facilitator led us into the room, we were handed a program with suggestions on how to continue the learning and engagement at home, as well as some guidelines for theatre for very young and/or first time theatergoers. One of the things that really stood out to me, and gave me comfort as the mother of an energetic toddler boy, was that the program said specifically that this was a "no-shhing" production. Sure, try to keep your children from screaming and being actively disruptive, but talking with them quietly about what they're seeing and what is happening, and allowing them to point and say some of the concepts being illustrated ("in", "out", etc) was encouraged. I think there was a collective sigh of relief amongst the mothers in the audience when we read this! One of the biggest barriers to taking children to see performances is in the expectations associated and fear of how they might behave like, well, children, so to have that removed and to know that it was alright for my son to act his age set such a positive and relaxed tone for the experience.
As if that tone was felt by Jack, too, my usually uncertain and nervous baby was completely relaxed and engaged in the production, interacting with the characters when invited to and joining them on "stage" with the other children - something I was not expecting but pleasantly surprised to see!
The cast was exceptional, as well, with the actors great at engaging the children and reaching out to those who might need a bit of encouragement (*cough* Jack *cough*)! He really responded to their welcoming and inviting manner, as you can see:
'In My Own Backyard' runs through Saturday, with shows everyday at 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. at the AT&T Room at The Long Center. Tickets are available at the event, or you can purchase them ahead of time here.