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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

One-and-a-half man shows

For over a year now, D and I have watched "shows" presented by the kids till our eyes bubble.

Gone are the drop-everything-and-rush-over-to-be-a-good-audience encouragement and support days. After about the third call from one of the kids pleading, "Who wants to come and watch our show now? We are ready!", we shuffle over to watch the show. (Tut-tut, indeed, but, with a couple of shows every other week, it gets a little overwhelming.)

Of course, we do acknowledge their production efforts and presentation no doubt, letting them know what we liked and what we didn't get; but, the initial thrill and race-to-the-front-seat enthusiasm has waned a bit.

First few shows had Ana handing us a ticket and playing the usher as well, seating us graciously and heading 'backstage' to her room to get ready.

The stage is always the only spot available in the house - in the living room by one of walls - a couple of old crib mattresses, cushions, blankets, chairs etc, come in handy to set the stage, which the kids do by themselves.

Ana is the bossy-pants in these productions: director, narrator, star, props manager, costumer, playwright... Oggie is usually in some supporting role, with a possible free-form solo during props or costume change.

The stories are simple - One was titled The Apple Orchard where Og was the apple seed (he was directed to sit down crouched in his apple seed costume - brown pants and red shirt); then as Ana narrated and acted the parts of the wind and the sun making the tree grow, Og slowly would stand up as if growing, growing taller into an apple tree... and become an apple tree full of red juicy apples; finally, Ana would hold up a paper in which she has drawn a bunch of trees and apples which represent the apple orchard. And... Curtain!

Another was about two kids - a little brother and older sister - who lived in a tent because their mommy and daddy had to work always and could not play with them. Props: the kids' table surrounded by dining chairs, with 2 or 3 blankets on top made up the tent, with an opening in the front which led under the table where their sleeping bags were set up. It went on and on about what the kids did - went out and picked strawberries, made food for themselves to eat as their parents were working, and tucked themselves in bed at night. And... Curtain!

Sometimes, it is a well-known fairy tale - like Sleeping beauty or Goldilocks or Red-Riding Hood or Three Little Pigs - straight narration and unfolding of the story, no surprises except for Og's unintentional non-cooperation and possibly intentional deviation from the rehearsed role.

Sometimes - and these are my favorites - they are stories from picture books they've enjoyed. My favorite one of these was the enacting of The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear. Ana was the strawberry, Oggie was the Mouse. (The Big Hungry Bear appears only in spirit, not in person and that's the beauty of this book). They act out the whole book, even putting on the goofy glasses for disguise.

Over time, the production value has increased a bit and there seems to be a few rehearsal sessions and a full dress rehearsal, which is usually right before the presentation as Oggie can be a tough prima donna, even if in his minuscule supporting role, and can exasperate Ana without even intending to.

I do love their shows, no doubt about it! They are usually very short, not more than 8 minutes total. There are a few impromptu improvised shows they put on which are rather goofy, but, the rehearsed ones with Ana holding up a marquee of sorts with the Play's title and giving a welcome speech, "Welcome One, Welcome All, to the Grandest Show in this Hall..." are always a treat.

Considering how invisible Ana prefers to be in public, I like that she enjoys performing for a cozy , familiar audience. Even if she chooses not to go up on stage anywhere, I am happy that she exercises that side of herself at home. Oggie is a typical soon-to-be four year old - moody and wild - and is an extrovert. He might enjoy being on stage - but only because he chooses to, not because he has to.

An email exchange with a friend helped me realize I have not recorded these memories here... remedied now.

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At 12:30 PM, Anonymous B o o. said...

awwww... how adorable! Hats off to Oggie for being so supportive! He deserves an Oscar! Talking from experience because its always a one-man show (Ashu if u have nt guessed!) in this house! Antu is waiting for meaty roles like Meryl Streep, methinks!!!!!!!! ;)

At 8:01 PM, Blogger Choxbox said...


This is so adorable Sheels - yes, they have to be recorded somewhere. I need to restart my blog!

At 1:37 AM, Blogger ranjani.sathish said...

Oh that's so awesome Sheela ! I was smiling at the Ana -"bossy" role and Og in supporting role :-). I am so impressed that Ana thinks of so many such creative things to do at home. It is great that she involves her little brother also !


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