We were thrilled to invite two PDX Kids Calendar readers to experience Play after Play‘s production of The Gentle People. Below are reviews from Ellen (mama to Hattie, age 3) and Abby (mom to Forrest, age 8, and Jasper, age 5).
Review by Ellen Seminara:
“Marc and Malanya have built a very special program. It was obvious that many of the kids in the audience were no strangers to Play After Play. The $7 cost of admission is a bargain, especially considering that you are really getting two experiences for the price of one. We’ll for sure visit them again for upcoming performances.” Read full review here.
Review by Abby Wyers:
“I love the ideas that play is connection in action and that stories bring us together. Marc and Melanya have a real talent and a genuine love for what they do. I would highly recommend this story and play session for families who want to slow down and connect. Even though my own kids did not play on the mats with Marc and Melanya, I think our family learned some things from watching others connect in this way that we can bring home to our own play, namely the importance of gentleness and safety. “ Read full review here.
Review by Ellen Seminara
Review by I was excited to take my 3 ½ year old daughter to see the performance of The Gentle People: An Ancient Legend from Patagonia at Play After Play and we weren’t disappointed. We had a great time and she crashed hard after we got home.
Play After Play is an interesting and unique concept that pairs a performance with a session of connected physical play time on mats afterward. Melanya Helene and Marc Ott are gifted storytellers and performers and kept their audience fully engaged throughout the production. They begin by letting their young viewers know exactly what is going to happen so no one is scared or surprised by any of the elements of the show. The set is very minimal, which helps keep the focus on their performance and the story.
The Gentle People is a very sweet tale of a peace-loving people who live interconnected with nature. Trouble comes when one member of their community strays too far and draws the attention of the Greedy People. You’ll have to see the performance to discover the clever way the Gentle People manage to outwit the Greedy People. Marc and Melanya used beautiful singing to great effect in their telling of this story.
After the performance they lay out mats and invite all present to come and play with them. If this sounds like a free for all, don’t worry. They ensure that only a few same-sized kids at a time join them on the mats and everyone gets a turn. Then each family is invited to play, also taking turns. Those who want to hang back and observe are every bit as welcome as those who jump in with both feet. My daughter had so much fun exploring the space and crawled, rolled, and tumbled like a puppy with them. Make sure you and your child are dressed for rolling around on mats. Wear your yoga pants and leave your cute skirt at home. This is a shoeless environment so come prepared for that as well.
A word of warning for those coming to this Saturday’s show. With all the construction and detours on Powell please make certain to leave a lot more time than you think you will need to get there.
Marc and Malanya have built a very special program. It was obvious that many of the kids in the audience were no strangers to Play After Play. The $7 cost of admission is a bargain, especially considering that you are really getting two experiences for the price of one. We’ll for sure visit them again for upcoming performances.
My family and I were lucky enough to get to see Play after Play‘s The Gentle People, An Ancient Legend from Patagonia at Brooklyn Bay this past Saturday morning. Marc and Melanya, who make up Play after Play, were welcoming and made everyone feel relaxed and comfortable upon arrival. My 8-year-old son especially liked when Marc took off his socks and flung them out of the way.
The show started after an introduction that helped children feel comfortable and understand what to expect. My kids, while excited to be there, really appreciated this. After a lot of laughs and dimming of the lights with audience participation, the play started. There were no props, no costumes, and no scenery. The play came alive through movement, songs, chants, and storytelling. The singing brought tears to my eyes. It was simple yet captivating and beautiful. My kids were both spellbound.
The story allowed the children to use their imaginations and envision the characters and happenings through rich narration and acting. The story had a slight element of mystery to it, especially for the younger set, and also a hopeful ending. It centered around the gentle people, a mysterious bird, and a decision to be gentle. The story was intriguing and left one hopeful through vivid descriptions and song. The play was the perfect length for young children and it held the attention of both the children and the adults in the audience
After the play a small amount of time was taken to arrange several large gym mats on the floor. We were all instructed to sit around the mats and guidelines of gentle play were shared. Use open, soft hands; stay low; move slow; and follow the child without talking or coercing them to participate. They explained that even children who only wanted to watch were participating in their own way and that was fine. They invited children to play first on the mats, a few at a time. The children seemed to really enjoy the movement and personal engagement. My kids enjoyed watching only and it was nice that they did not feel pressured to play. Families were then invited out on the mats for more play time. Again, my own kids were more interested in watching so we did not participate.
I appreciated that they gave us a handout with some information about the story and the play session. I love the ideas that play is connection in action and that stories bring us together. Marc and Melanya have a real talent and a genuine love for what they do. I would highly recommend this story and play session for families who want to slow down and connect. Even though my own kids did not play on the mats with Marc and Melanya, I think our family learned some things from watching others connect in this way that we can bring home to our own play, namely the importance of gentleness and safety. Marc and Melanya bring a personal connection to their work allowing people to feel welcome and comfortable.
Abby, Ellen and their families were given free tickets to attend the performance for review on behalf of PDX Kids Calendar.