So the last couple of months has seen me spend every spare moment I have had, working on set and props for a children’s drama group production of Stuart Paterson’s The Jungle Book. (This may be a slight exaggeration but it has certainly felt like every spare moment.) I’ll tell you about that and pop up a picture or few in a bit. First I need to tell you a little about the show and Acting Up.
Yesterday, I got to see the show and was absolutely blown away. Don’t be dismissive when you hear the term children’s drama group. The cast ranged in age from around 4 – 16 and each and every one of them were amazing. Sure there were a few lines forgotten and bits where they stumbled slightly but the overall brilliance of their work was not lost, they pulled together and go through it. This was great to see. The work and effort they had put in to get the show to where it was, paid off on the day. The characters were cast fantastically – so that their anthropomorphic personalities were a joy to watch.
This was probably closer to Rudyard Kiplings original story than the disney productions, so there were some darker, more serious themes that were touched upon. Themes such as law and justice, morality of class and hierarchies, the sometimes precarious balance of human kind and nature, themes of abandonment and not belonging. The list could go on. These deeper themes and content were dispersed by humour – I found myself laughing at some of some scenes – the whole audience were amused at Kaa’s hunger dance.
So I want to give a great big shout out – congratulations, well done, to all the cast from Acting Up in Gosport, especially Rosanna Sloan – and Sammy Tyler without whom there would have been no show at all. As a mum to one of the young actors, I can say from a parents point of view that the learning opportunities and benefits the children get from their drama classes are huge.In acting up, us parents are treated to a mini show at the end of each term, which gets the children used to performing in front of an audience and means we get to see what they have been up to; all of the end of term performances are lovely but to see their end of year performance is a proud moment that tops the rest.
I feel like I’ve been on a bit of a journey with the group this year and feel incredibly lucky to have been this involved.* I was asked to help with set for two shows and between September and December. I had set for Matilda finished and ready to use by the middle of October. I didn’t get any whole set pictures of this work but I hear it went well and didn’t fall apart which is a big relief. I think one of the worst nightmare scenarios doing set design is imaging something you have made falling apart in the middle of the show and being responsible for ruining the whole thing!
For the Jungle book set, I was invited to go and spend a day with the cast getting them involved with the making too. They created such a fantastic array of delights and this hopefully gave them an idea of another aspect of theatre, and more of an appreciation of set when it all came together later on.
I could keep writing about my work and what it has been like getting involved with a project like this but I think the best thing I can give you for now are some pictures.
Matilda Set Work
The Jungle Book Set Work
* Some of my closest friends and family will know I have been more than a little stressed at times during this journey. It’s been hard work. I said to a very good friend of mine not so long ago that when I get the time I want to write a blog about how I’m a ‘mother from hell’ when I get close to a deadline. (that could be extended to girlfriend, daughter etc etc)
Thankfully my friend is wise and suggested that I wait until the work is finished so I have some perspective and calm. I may still write a piece soon, but I wanted to do this celebratory piece first.