review by Tabitha Rhodes
Yesterday we had the pleasure of attending our second Play after Play performance – The Funny Little Woman. We were first introduced to Play after Play early in 2011 when we attended The Rat’s Tale. You can read my previous review here.
For those who are not familiar with the concept behind Play after Play – it’s “an hour of exquisitely performed play of two kinds: the first is a short theatrical performance based on wisdom tales from around the world, involving music, movement, and story telling for children age 2-9. The second is a formalized experience of physical play that models safety, awareness, and gentleness.”
Before they begin, the performers, Marc and Melanya – gave us a rundown of the day’s activities. They told us that they would be performing a play – then we would all be invited to come and play. They had us practice our “wild applause” and showed us how the lights would dim and brighten at different points in the performance. The children (and some parents) sat comfortably on a couple of fluffy mats on the floor, while the remaining audience members filled three rows of seats in the small performance space at Brooklyn Bay.
The story of The Funny Little Woman is one of silliness, creativity and friendship. The funny little woman is an expert rice dumpling maker who fallsl down a hole and comes to meet a hungry creature who wants her to make dumplings only for him. After some time she find herself missing home and uses her humor and creativity to get back home. But she doesn’t forget about the hungry Oni and continues to send him dumplings in her own creative way. It is a heart warming story – blissfully performed by the two performers – Marc and Melanya – on a simple “set” consisting simply of mats.
After the “Play,” Marc and Melanya changed clothes and spread the mats out and invited us to sit along the edges. They again explained the concept of play and emphasized the importance that each child should experience this play at the level that is comfortable for them. Then one by one we were invited to come and “play” with them. First the children by themselves (or with siblings/friends), then all members of families or groups. Watching the way that Marc and Melanya interacted with each child (and grown up) individually, and how they really changed their activity to match that of each individual was inspiring.
Although my beautiful son did not participate in the group play, he was fascinated with Melanya and took to showing off a bit after everyone had cleared out. We felt nothing but comfortable throughout the entire performance and through the play session.
Marc and Melanya work with several different groups and organizations to teach safe play. You can read more about all they do on their website – playafterplay.com.
PDX Kids Calendar was given tickets to attend the performance to review – but was in no way paid for the views expressed in this review.