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A visit to the theatre: Theatre bug is picking up its strength!

Children living in shelters and substitute homes added two more plays to the their 2018 “theatrical season”, by spending hours full of excitement in the magic world of a dreadful dragon and a beautiful ballet on the first Saturday in December: The children watched “Curse of the Dragon”, and “Nutcracker” in Estonian National Opera.

In most of the families, preparations for a visit to the theatre start already in the previous evening, when nice clothes are picked and discussions are held on what will happen on the stage this time.

In anticipation of the “Nutcracker”, also the theatrical culture in Estonia and Russia and what sort of music was composed by Pyotr Tchaikovsky was discussed with the educator in one family. In families, where the children had not been to the Drama Theatre before, the actors of the “Curse of the Dragon” were looked up from the homepage and several of them appeared to be known to the children.

On their road to the city, the children told exiting fictional stories about dragons and curses. One of the kids created an association with the Shrek movie, where a dragon had to be defeated to rescue Fiona.
When arriving at the theatre, the kids examined the footprints of famous actors of theatre Estonia and set their steps to either of the theatres.

Dragon struck with its entrance

Everything relating to dragons is a very hot topic for kids these days. And no one was disappointed about this play – it was just like in a magic world. It was especially exiting when the main characters met the dragon. The loud thumps made the children even jump out of their chairs – the dragon was really scary. Exactly as much as necessary! Oh, how exciting it was when the 11-year-old Jane and 13-year-old Joosep fought with the dragon and finally won.

For some children it was their first visit to the theatre, but the more exciting was the experience. The moment, when the dragon picked up the speed and flew to the stage from the highest balcony, impressed the most. This was both cool and awesome and even a but funny, yet a little scary for the smaller ones.

Even those small boys, who are not easily shocked, admitted that it was a little scary – yet cool too. During the intermission there was lively discussion about what will happen next. In the second act, the children became fond of a weirdo Famagott, whose behaviour and language made the children especially happy. All without exception had a smile on their faces whenever he said something.

It was a truly fantastic play!

The play surprised with its magic stage setting and solutions. Bangs caused a lot of excitement and even bigger children were thrilled. An 8-year-old girl summed up the play with the words: “It was so awesome! I don’t know why I whined at home that I don’t want to come.” Another 8-year-old young lady considered it her favourite play of all those she had seen.

It was nice to see how a fairy-tale show made the children’s eyes shine. Also the kids themselves were very pleased with the play. The youngest of a family, who before the play was quite excited, said that she is still afraid of the dragon and does not event want to watch the play. But the fear passed quickly since what was happening on the stage was so gripping. Another girl, who is desperately afraid of bangs, darkness and noise, sat in the lap of the educator and watched the play with her hands on the ears; yet, in the end she liked that “dragon story” very much.

Another “older” young lady did not show directly her enthusiasm, as her age and fairy-tale no longer are a good fit, but when looking from the side, it could be seen that she was absorbed in the play with all of her heart. Two sisters, however, chit-chatted after the play and talked about the places that were dreadful – still, it was so cool, they thought.

“It’s good that they finally got back home!”

Amazement, “ah-s” and laughter could be heard from the audience. The children loved how the stage equipment, lighting, sound and costumes were used in the play. It was especially cool when the dragon descended to the stage with a cable system to kidnap the princess.
This is what Riko thought about the play: “It was even a bit scary when everything went dark. The bangs scared me from time to time ... and when the dragon flew in the air... “. Riko loved that the children were so brave and immediately started to fight with the dragon. Yet, he was pleased that they finally got back home. “The sound of the dragon was frightful and the howling of wolves was spooky as well”, he recalled. “I was not that scared, as it was not real.”

Also tiny Taaniel was a little afraid when the music got too loud, but happy ending and great experience swept away all fear. Elena simply admired: “It was so awesome!”

After the play, the kids got to meet the actors, ask autographs from their favourites and take photos. For some young men it was a great joy that after the play it was even possible to meet the actors. The fact that some actors played several roles gave a lot to think about. This also caused some confusion among children during signing the autographs. One 8-year-old girl said that she was happy that she could hug the actors at the theatre.

Magic “Nutcracker”

Watching the “Nutcracker” ballet has become sort of a Christmas tradition. Beautiful music and grand dance always excite the senses of children.

5-year-old Ljuba was really grasped by what was going on the stage and applauded eagerly. After the play at home she tried to imitate the dance of the mice throughout the evening. Bigger children stayed more reserved at the theatre, yet at home even they tried the ballet steps.

The kids had a traditional tour backstage after the play, where they could see the setting and props used on stage. The smaller ones could go inside the cake they had seen on the stage during the play – which naturally amused them very much. The kids were greatly interested in different requisites which seemed like real, although were made of plastic – they could even be touched, when the guide gave permission for that.

A 13-year-old young lady was really happy to see also what’s going on backstage. “I had never been backstage, although I have always wanted to go there and finally, we could! It was a great experience.”

Children look forward to every visit to the theatre

After having seen the ballet, the children unanimously said that they were enchanted by the beautiful music, costumes and impressive stage sets, which often changed. There was always a lot to look at on stage – the graceful dancers as well as the enchanting stage setting.

The theatre bug is picking up its strength in children – they can make a difference what is going on in a drama play and in a ballet. The understanding that going to a theatre is nothing unfamiliar for them is developing in kids: they want to go, they are looking forward to every play, they are respectful about everything they see and they always get something new, exciting and useful.

One of the educators wrote in the feedback that interest towards culture may develop in a child also suddenly, when they see that the others go to the theatre. This visit to the theatre was a really great experience for everyone, enriched by a tour backstage and a visit to the cafe. On their way back, the educators heard how the children analysed the actors: this is how one gets to know the theatrical world – you remember which actors have played in which plays.

Great day with the family

After some food in Lido, part of the families took a walk in the city – a round was made at the Christmas market and before the return trip home, they climbed the stairs to Toompea to enjoy the winter evening view over Tallinn. The day was quite long for many families, but besides the splendid play the children also gained other kind of knowledge and experience.

The discussions on the topics around the play continued even in the bus and when arriving home, the excited kids shared their emotions also with the others. The next week, the evenings at home were spent by playing with great excitement and interest the boardgame found inside the programme of the dragon play.

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