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Can a mother behave like this?

In January, the children from the substitute homes and safe houses over Estonia enjoyed a youth play ‘See kõik on tema’, which performed in the Rakvere Theatre's small stage. After the play, the children examined the theatre premises and met with the actors. The conversations that took place on the way back home were an essential part of this theatre tour. The issues of web threats and parent-child relationships were discussed together.

‘See kõik on tema’ is a thought-provoking story about the relationship between a mother and a teenage son. The play bears the subtitle ‘Eksperiment teismelisega’, and in this, a single mother participates in a social experiment to reach out to her estranged son.

"What nonsense is this?"

The foster parents approved the play by saying that our repertoire theatres generally have a few performances directed at young people, and this youth play was a good choice made by the Rakvere Theatre. Most of the young people were immediately ready to go to the theatre when reading the introduction. On the way to Rakvere, they enthusiastically recalled the facts known about this city.

The performance started unusually, and the first emotion that the children expressed was of misunderstanding and "what nonsense is this?". Teenagers from one family drew the attention of the foster parents to the fact that inappropriate words were used on stage!

The young people got excited as the play progressed because they finally understood the idea of the story. The questions that had been raised at the beginning of the play showed that the young people had a lot of recognition among their friends and strangers with whom they constantly communicate on the social network.

Naked in front of the whole world

The story was captivating, and the feelings of the young viewers changed all the time: once they felt for the son whom the mother lied to, then for the mother who tried to communicate with her son, knowing that what she was doing was wrong. The young people understood that the mother's situation was complicated and that every solution to this situation hurts her son.

For the young people, the play was a good lesson that people with whom they communicate on the social network may not be who they say they are, and a stranger cannot be believed simply based on a Facebook account or a correspondence. The situations replayed on the stage that raised questions were discussed afterwards on the way back home.

The young people learned that spending a lot of time on the Internet or in the phone may lead to bad things in life. For example, a close friend can make a false account and knowingly hurt you. At the same time, the children said that if someone happens to steal your phone or if you lose it, you would be naked in front of the whole world. According to the young people, they now saw the life they live every day. When asked whether they are going to change the habits of using their phones from now on, or not, they replied, however, that probably they would not ...

"Sometimes I simply do not want to communicate"

In the discussion, the young people expressed their opinion on what they saw. Some of the children thought that the boy's behaviour was weird, yet others thought that the mother should not have had to pose under a false name: a parent should not behave like this, or intervene.

Everyone had an opinion: “It cannot be real; the boy was very odd. In FB, you do not accept a friend request from an account that has zero friends and has been created on the previous day.” – “The boy was very foolish. You do not behave with your mother like that."

One young person wrote: "The beginning of the theatre performance was quite confusing, and at first, I did not understand what was going on and why the actors are not talking to each other; however, after a while, I realised that the mother and son were not getting along. I did not, however, understand why the mother and the son are not getting along... The play made me feel a bit sad because there was nothing left for the poor mother to do but think of an account under a girl's name. In my opinion, it was a bit unfair to her son because she knew or should have known that it will eventually come out, and it all can end very badly. The performance was exciting and enthralling; I would recommend it to my friends. I will be sure to revisit it.”

Eva said that at times she recognised herself: sometimes you do not feel like communicating, maybe only with one friend on the Internet.

The young people said that nowadays it is good to go to the theatre even if you do not speak the language. In this performance, those who wished to read the Russian translations could do so on a tablet computer as the translation ran simultaneously with the statements made by the actors on the stage.

Was the mother acting correctly?

After the performance, the children had plenty to think and talk about on the way back home. This time, the older children visited the theatre, so they could talk about the topics that were right for them. Communicating with parents is a hurtful topic for many young people living in safe houses, and therefore, the foster parents needed to explain more about what was happening in the performance.

The foster parents discussed together with the children, whether the mother was acting correctly or not. The children thought that the mother did not act right. After creating the false account, she should have stopped the communication in time. They also talked about relationships: if for some reason a person has a hard time expressing and showing their emotions, thoughts and feelings, then interacting on the Internet breaks all the tensions and everything can be said freely. It is dangerous if the person being spoken to is malicious - anyone can create an account and pretend to be someone else.

As for the open end, most young people hoped that the mother and the son reconciled at the end, although the director left the outcome to the viewer to decide.

Reflection of yourself

One family was accompanied by a psychologist, with whom the discussion continued on the way back home. This analysis was like a sequel to the play: the young people drew parallels with their home, talking about the reasons why they were in a safe house. The discussion was done as group work, and when they talked about a painful topic, no one could leave because it all took place on the bus.

As the children observe the parents who visit them in the safe houses, and how they behave, then in the discussions they now recalled how some parents were acting. The young people themselves complained to each other or, instead, brought out positive features in their parents.

One 15-year-old, who claimed to have been in the theatre for the first time, had a prejudice against the theatre as a boring place, but with this performance he had a positive experience.

This occasion was a "two-in-one" event for the children: an outing and a theatre. Some children immediately agreed to go to the theatre, but some needed a little more explanation. Initially, for a young person, who has no positive experience of the theatre, it is easy for them to say that they do not want to visit a theatre, but rather just have a walk outside. After this performance, the emotions were high: when you see a reflection of yourself on the stage that is later explained through a discussion, it addresses you more than a weekly conversation.

If you have a problem, talk to your loved ones!

Many of the children visited the Rakvere Theatre's small stage for the first time. They were very happy with the theatre and the performance. After the performance, the young people met with actors who talked about the production and gave autographs.

A tour around the Rakvere Theatre's building was also exciting. The actors have a large wardrobe and a lot of clothes for different performances. The children could try on wigs and the masks of the ‘Mõmmi ja aabits’ characters. The children took pictures with the masks. During the tour, the children learned a lot of interesting things about the theatre and the hard work of the actors. According to the photo on the wall, the young people immediately recognised Tiit from ‘Kättemaksukontor’.

The performance was especially enjoyable because of its educational story. The thoughts remain: if you have a problem, talk to your parents or other close people; and do not communicate with a person you do not know and with whom you do not feel safe. The play drew attention to the dangers of the Internet and made some children think about their behaviour on the computer.

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