Notes from The Forgotten Christmas Elf

This week I’ve put on my first theatre show for children.  That’s to say I’ve put on the first theatre show that I’ve written from scratch, including the story and composing all the songs.  Not only that but I’ve managed to take the magic interactive formula that we use in our workshops and scale that up successfully to 150 kids.  I’ve had 2 years olds sitting and concentrating for an hour.  TWO YEAR OLDS – AN HOUR!

Yet at this moment I can’t get past the fact that I parallel parked a van this week.  For me, that’s the achievement of the decade.

Sooner or later the other stuff will sink in I’m sure, but apart from my van glory the over-riding thing I will take with me from this experience is how much fun I’m having.  For despite the fact that I am blazing a trail conceptually in early years theatre I am still an Actor who is useless with her props!

During the opening performance I was dressed as Jacks mother ready to go on.  I went to the props table to get the rolling pin only to realise that it was at home.  Hubby had demanded that I bring it home as he actually uses it and I’d forgotten to pick it up.  I turned to my fellow actor backstage and said

“Could you run to the cafe and ask to borrow a rolling pin, even though you’re dressed as Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer?”

“Of course” he said, and promptly ran through our make shift curtain.  He returned with a rolling pin and the show went on!

Yesterday, as the audience was streaming through the door (yes streaming – we were somehow oversold!) I realised that all of my props that should have been on stage were infact behind the set.  DAMN IT WHY!    I then came up with a plan to lie on the floor behind the set and slide the items underneath the set onto the stage and into position.  A cunning plan except there is only an inch gap underneath the set.  The other actors immediately came to my aid…..and cheered me on.

I started with the biscuit tray.

I failed with the biscuit tray.

We then realised that we needed to signal front of house, at their busiest time, for assistance.  We start waving frantically over the top of the set trying to attract the attention of one person only, hoping that the kids in the audience wouldn’t see us!  Clearly they didn’t!!!

Front of house turn up.  Turns out he’s my husband and somehow knew that such a scenario may have occurred.  When we explained to him that three fully grown adults had been throwing things on stage inappropriately he didn’t bat an eyelid, put everything right, shoved a bottle of fairy liquid up his T-shirt to smuggle it on stage and kissed me for luck.  The show went well!

By the end the kids in the audience were so with us that some of them got up on the stage and did the final number with us!  We had to stop them coming into the dressing room as they followed us off stage demanding more!  As far as feedback from kids goes, that’s as good as it gets.  Kids don’t do polite clapping.  They either sit and listen because they like it, or they get up and walk off.  Nobody walked off.

But did I tell you I parallel parked a van this week.  A VAN!!!  I KNOW!!!!!


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SARAH CANTRILL is a woman on a mission to inspire every young child to become a reader for pleasure.  She is the Artistic Director & Founder of STORY STORKS, a social enterprise that delivers interactive story workshops to early years children and their grown ups, that help kids to fall in love with stories and develop their early language skills meaning that they have an easier time of learning to read when the time is right.  Infact 85% of the kids who come through STORY STORKS  are right where they should be or ahead in terms of progression through the reading book scheme once they get to school and the ones who are behind are trying hard because they know that it’s worth it – that to read is to unlock a whole world of fun and adventure and learning and imagination and they might take a bit longer to get there but they’re determined that get there they will.


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