Lastega ja lastele

Auhinnaga „Lastega ja lastele“ täname ja tunnustame inimesi ja organisatsioone, kelle uued algatused või pikemaajaline tegevus on positiivselt mõjutanud laste ja perede käekäiku.
Tunnustusauhinna taotluste voor on avatud 15. aprillini.

Esita taotlus

Oh, how much warmth a good friend can provide to one’s soul!

At the beginning of March, children from several Estonian substitute homes and safe houses visited the Ugala Theatre, in Viljandi, at the initiative of SEB Heategevusfond. On this occasion, they watched the new production of The Snow Queen – an ever-popular story about friendship and love. Prior to the performance, the children participated in an actors’ workshop, after which they met with the actors who had been on stage and each crafted their own strawberry marzipan.

Visiting the theatre this time were children from family homes in Siimusti, Viljandi, Elva, Kiikla and Tallinn, and children from the Taheva Sanatorium.

Prior to visiting the theatre they read Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tale The Snow Queen as their bedtime story, so that it would be easier for them to understand and more exciting to follow what the producer had done differently in comparison with the story in the book. 

For some families, the first Saturday in March began very early. The long train ride went without a hitch, the book was read again on the train and the characters were remembered. The children were in a happy mood and full of anticipation.

How to become a good actor 

First, the children participated in a workshop, which was led by Ugala actress Vilma Luik, who spoke to the children about her job. Together they discussed how an actor prepares and what skills are required in addition to acting. The performer emphasised the need for an athletic lifestyle and keeping one’s body healthy and in shape, and taught the children how to focus in front of an audience. Together they practiced movement and voice exercises and played games that help develop the imagination and offer joy from working together.

The bigger children listened to the actor with great interest and asked her questions. The adults present also found the presentation to be quite interesting, varied and lively. For many of the smaller children, the vocation of actor is a rather distant topic. Instead, the smallest members of the families enjoyed taking part in various activities. It was fun to see that the children could participate in games that they had never tried before: feeling one’s own body, trusting one’s partner and reacting quickly. And courage was required, in order to take part in some of the tasks. Participants in the work room were satisfied and later excitedly told others what they had done there.

When it was time to enter the auditorium, the educators gave the children their tickets, with the bigger children having to find their own seats, which they succeeded quite well in doing. After the first act, there were already many opinions! 

Good triumphs over evil

The performance was about the friendship between two children and this created a sense of joy and warm feelings in the little viewers. The story got children to thinking about how much warmth and joy one good friend can give you. Friends are those with whom it is the most fun to discover the world and spend time together!

The beautiful Snow Queen was the polar opposite of a friend – cold and callous – and tried to get the children to quarrel. Overnight the caring and warm-hearted boy became a know-it-all, whose actions were guided by cold intellect. It is a very enlightening story of good and evil. The story reminded us that good must always triumph over evil.

The children were delighted. They were in agreement when they said that it was a performance that they wouldn’t mind seeing again.

Fairy tales within a fairy tale

In the majority of families with small children, bedtime stories are read every night, which surprised the children when they found out that there are many other familiar fairy tale characters in this story. They very much enjoyed the fact that there were several fairy tales in the performance. 

In the opinion of the children, what was taking place on the stage was incredibly exciting and they followed it all with a fixed gaze and without fidgeting until the end. Taking into consideration the fact that the performance lasted for more than two hours, it was a great achievement on its own for some family members, said one educator. 

The performance was visually effective, spirited and easily understood by all. Its content and structure differed from the Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tale, but was very interesting and the actors performed their jobs brilliantly. The children enjoyed the Good Wolf and Grandmother the most, who literally did a ‘cartwheel’. Gerda’s behaviour served as an example for everyone. The girl put all of her skills into play and overcame every difficulty to save her brother. An idea continued to reverberate: good thoughts, a set goal and cooperation will win out over all fears and difficulties. 

Raimo whispered to an educator that it’s not nice to sleep during the performance...a man seated near the children had apparently dozed off. Raimo understood that the actors had put in so much effort to bring all of this to the audience and that not caring about it was not nice.

‘I don’t want strangers’ autographs!’

Following the performance, the children had the opportunity to take photos together with their favourite actors and collect their autographs in the copy of Anderson’s The Snow Queen, give to each house as a gift. 

In some families there was a discussion about who would stay behind to collect autographs from the performers. For instance, it had to be explained to the children what exactly autographs are and why they are given. Andre said that he was afraid and that he didn’t want any ‘autographs’ from strangers...
The meeting with the actors created a bit of anxiety in many of the theatregoers, and at first the children were quite bashful and afraid to approach the actors. This all changed when a more courageous girl finally got the ball rolling, which encouraged the other children. In the end, even some of the more nervous children came to the front of the stage and busily collected autographs. It was a pleasure to watch how their confidence grew and faces began to shine. Taking a picture together with the actors was fun. 

The photographer was also present after lunch in the cafe. Some of the children were more reserved during picture taking and even embarrassed, being afraid to take funny pictures. Angelika, who likes to pose alone, liked the ‘photo session’ the most. 

Sweet marzipan strawberries

In the workshop located in the basement of the Ugala Theatre, the children were able to craft their own marzipan strawberries under the guidance of masters from the nonprofit organisation Bonifatiuse Gild. When one of the educators told the children that they would be making strawberries, they were asked if the strawberries were made of wood... No, you can eat them! 

The children also learned more about the strawberry tradition in Viljandi. Namely, the view of the streets of the city is made merrier by the big red concrete strawberries. The reason for this was given by the painting Strawberry Eaters, by naïve artist Paul Kondas, with the residents of Viljandi supposedly resembling the characters within the painting. The busiest strawberry season is in May, when children from across Estonia visit the city: strawberry picking tours are rather excursions for children, where over a period of three hours under the guidance of young guides the most beautiful spots are viewed and the best businesses are visited. In the spring, the strawberry tour ends at the house of the Bonifatiuse Gild, where each child is able to bring home a strawberry crafted with their very own hands. 

Everyone was able to make marzipan strawberries and the results were beautiful. Some of the children promised to keep it as a memento and not eat it. Others were already busy eating the treat as they stepped out the door. A few of the children began to dream about how they would eat it at home and what the strawberry tastes like. The children were one experience richer. And, of course, the fruit of their labour tasted very sweet, regardless of how long it was after its completion that it was finally eaten! It is always a joy to make something with your own hands and then to give it as a gift or to enjoy it yourself.

The most beautiful city in Estonia... Viljandi!

One family walked to the theatre through the city and left after taking a detour through the Castle Hills, which gave them an excellent opportunity to play the ‘strawberry search game’. They found six big strawberries in the city! Another family decided to return to Viljandi once the snow has melted, and then find all of the strawberries.

Theatre enthusiasts from some of the families had the opportunity to visit the city of Viljandi for the first time. They enjoyed the beautiful view of the lake, climbed in the castle ruins, walked across the suspension bridge and peeked inside the Estonian Traditional Music Centre. This was exciting, since the opportunity to travel to different sites across Estonia is always an event for the children. And the weather was beautiful! There are so many beautiful cities in Estonia and the views in Viljandi are an unforgettable experience especially during one’s first meeting with the city. It is always fun to return here – whether it is to search for strawberries, the theatre, listen to music or just to have a look around.
While sitting in a cafe, one family talked about how much it costs for one child to go to the theatre. When all of the costs were added together – ticket, cafe visit, and programme – the boys were left for a moment in amazement with open mouths. Everyone understood that it costs a lot, and everyone confirmed that it was a really great thing that there is a fund that helps children from substitute homes and safe houses to visit the theatre and enjoy other exciting endeavours.

A plethora of impressions and experiences!

On the way home, lively impressions were exchanged about who was the coolest character, and everyone praised the novel solution and cool stage design. Of course, they also picked out the other fairy tales that which had been inserted into the performance: there was Little Red Riding Hood and The Princess and the Pea and the Emperor’s New Clothes. The girls, in particular, really liked the Snow Queen’s beautiful clothes and headdress. The boys’ favourite was the Wolf – a character that is not found in this form in the Snow Queen book, but gave a significant contribution in this performance.

The children enjoyed the fact that there were young and energetic actors on stage. On the way home, many believed that they should have gotten autographs from everyone. This was the first experience of this kind for the children and they were a bit wary, but at the same time they learned that they don’t have to be afraid or feel a false sense of shame. It was a performance, which many would like to see again. Different theatre visits are precisely what children who have had contact with this incredible world always look forward to with great enthusiasm, since each visit to the theatre give them a great deal to think about and offers experiences which help the children to express their emotions and to better understand themselves and the world that surrounds them.

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