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‘You are the fortune ticket!’

At the beginning of October, the young people staying in substitute homes and shelters went to see a play ‘The Orange Girl, staged at theatre NUKU by the book of Norwegian writer Jostein Gaarder, which deeply moved everyone, urged to reflect and caused joy and sadness of recognition.

The webpage of NUKU writes that ‘the story of the Orange Girl speaks of things that matter the most: love and longing, family and loneliness, time and eternity.’ And although the warm play moved many to tears, the children said that they also got a good laugh – so that all in all, it was funny and sad at the same time – as is the life itself.
Quite a few youngsters, who are difficult to be lured out to the theatre, followed the story with great interest and claimed afterwards that they liked it. Why? Since many could identify themselves with the main character Georg.

‘It’s me!’
The children easily identify themselves with what they see on stage. At the beginning of the play, when a pile of clothes appeared under Georg’s blanket, which later was lying carelessly on the floor, one young man whispered into the ear of the teacher: ‘It’s me!’ He also has often clothes hidden in bed under the fitted sheet or on the floor. Identifying oneself with the character shows primarily that they enjoyed the play.
The only one whose autograph the young man asked on his arm was Georg, that is Mart Müürisepp, with whom he could also take a photo. The autograph on the hand was so important to him that he would have walked through the entire Tallinn Old Town with rolled-up sleeve.
Hiding clothes under the blanket looked familiar also to one young lady, who said that Georg is just like her. From now on she promised to keep her room tidy.

A story that deeply touched
The play contained funny but also serious and thought-provoking scenes. Everyone could find something that touched them. Karoliine liked the love theme and it made her sad that George’s father died. ‘The Orange Girl’ made children think also about how difficult it is for the close ones to accept a loss and how many confusing thoughts it creates.
However, one 15-year-old girl said that she will never ever go to a theatre again as the teacher always chooses the plays where she cries. This was her way to show that the play touched her deeply. Both, bigger girls as well as the foster parents shed tears and quite many scenes offered a joy of recognition as these were as though from the lives of the children in their foster home.
Laura-Liisa got so involved in the play that at one point she even forgot that she was at a theatre. Anna, who usually cannot sit still for a long time, sat an hour and a half calmly and intently. Taissia said that this play brought the ‘meaning back into her life’. Sergei summed up what he had seen in one sentence: it is important to live, regardless of how long the life lasts.
Some ‘bigger’ boys boasted that they were on their phones or slept during the play, in reality, however, even they were discussing vividly in the train what they had seen.

How is trust built?
The actors used scarce resources to bring to the audience serious topics – love and pain of loss. One foster parent wrote that it was good to see that the same emotions which the young people go through when communicating with adults were played out on stage. The parent said that this play is a great reminder also to the grownups, showing that children immediately understand when the adults try to hide their feelings or the right emotions. It is important to hear out the children and to talk to them about your worries, feelings, joy and pain. Only then the child can trust the adult and sense that he or she is loved. And only after the children really feel that they are heard, they start talking.
This story made me think about the labyrinth of life, why a young person, with everything ahead of them, must depart this life. As no one knows how long or short our life is, every day must be lived to the fullest and not wasted on trifles.

This story is also in a book!
Getting autographs caused excitement among children – it was so cool to meet their favourite actors face to face. Every family got a book of ‘The Orange Girl’ as a gift, which is now even more valuable due to the autographs of the actors. Anna started reading the book already in the theatre house and several other children plan to read it as well. Taissia decided to use it for school reading, where you need to introduce a freely chosen book. There are children who are not so keen about reading, but whenever books are read out loud in the evenings, they listen with great interest. Thanks to the book it is possible to discuss and explain the scenes that remained unclear during the play.
After the play, the children also had an opportunity to tour backstage. It was exciting to see all those halls and workshops where costumes and puppets are made. The kids could move and play with different puppets. The talk of the guide was so fascinating that everyone listened with interest and asked quite a few questions.
At the NUKU museum of puppetry, Anete and Karoliine were most excited about the cellar of horrors. Marek did not dare to go in there. Together the kids tried on various masks and costumes and everyone had great fun.

Kids and adults came closer to each other
The discussion about life and death brought children and adults closer to each other. A teacher of a family wrote: ‘And since the children of our family know that three years ago, I suffered serious illness, then they asked me about it. They wanted to know when did I tell about it to my son and family. How it has influenced them, and so on. We talked on this topic and it felt that this conversation brought us much closer with the children.’
The play also reflected the importance of conversation between generations and made children think about how important the stories and memories are in our lives. This demonstrated why it is necessary to be honest towards yourself as well as the others and let go of the past to make good memories of the present.
The idea that remained in the air was that our life here is a fortune ticket! One of the teachers said that it was a great opportunity to tell both of the kids who came along to the theatre: you are a fortune ticket!

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