review by Tabitha Rhodes
If you are not familiar with the concept behind Play after Play – the performers put on a “Play” – in this case “a story of a little rat who isn’t happy with who he is. When he suddenly begins to get everything he wishes for and can become anything he desires, he learns to appreciate himself just as he is.” Then, after the play – the performers pull out large mats to create a safe and padded area for the kids to come and “play” with the performers … thus Play after Play!
I have to admit – with Marshall in-tow I wasn’t sure how he would take the whole experience. My kid is really not one to jump into new situations – and sometimes has extreme reactions to being in new places or situations (i.e., getting very upset, wanting to leave and never go back!). But we went into the space with open minds and good thoughts!
I have to say – and I mentioned this to Casey – I’m always impressed when you can walk into a warehouse/garage type space and and feel like you’re somewhere else (in this case a theater!). We were warmly greeted by Marc and Melanya – the performers – as we walked in the door at Brooklyn Bay. The space was wonderful – with deep red walls, wooden flooring, and warm and inviting lighting. We removed our shoes upon entering the space, and seated ourselves in the first of three rows of seating near the back.
Before the play started, Marc and Melanya introduced themselves and talked a little about play after play, and the story that we were going to be enjoying – The Rat’s Tale. They also invited us in the audience to join in and help with some of the sound effects – as wind, and rain. It was a great way to engage everyone and get us involved!
As they began the first “play” – Melanya and Marc created music with a large metal bowl and their voices. The sound was amazing …and peaceful. Their movements were fluid and matched the music. Then Melanya began telling the story while Marc acted out her narrative. As they walked us through the journey of the rat and his struggle to find his place in the world, I was amazed at how they were able to engage all of the children from ages 2 up to 8. I won’t spill the beans on how the story ends – but will instead encourage you to go and experience it for yourselves! I will say it was just the right length, and the concept was one that kids of many different ages will appreciate!
After the play was over, they spread out the large play mats and futons and all of the audience sat around the edges.
We were given the basics for what non-competitive safe play was, and some tips to help the kids really embrace it. My favorite bit was for the parents to keep quiet – in other words let Melanya and Marc invite the child out and let them decide for themselves if they wanted to join in or sit it out. One at a time the children were invited to come out onto the mats to play. Some kids went easily and playfully crawled, tumbled and rolled around with Marc and Melanya.
After about 20 minutes of play, they took a break and they invited everyone onto the mat for a little chat. We talked about safe play and how we had all played without aggression – no fists or hitting – and how much fun that was. Then we went back to sit around the outside and they invited us as a family onto the mats. I have to admit, this was probably my favorite part. We got to roll, tumble, crawl and play with Marc and Melanya. Marshall stood back at first – but then wanted to get involved and play as well. It was wonderful to be allowed to experience something as a family – and something that took us all a tad out of our normal comfort zones.
The Rat’s Tale is Play after Play’s last production of the season and runs through April 10 on Saturdays at 10 am and Sundays at 2 pm. Tickets are $7/person – under 2 free. PDX Kids Calendar is excited to be giving away a family four pack of tickets later this week – so be sure to check back!