How High The Sky
Last Friday I took Anakin to the dress rehearsal of How High The Sky, an interactive theatrical experience for babies under 1. The show sold out a long time ago, but a friend of mine tipped me about the dress rehearsals needing audience participants which we were lucky enough to take part in.
Urszula Dawkins at the Artshub wrote a piece on the raging debate Theatre for Babies: What’s the Point?
I am all for theatre for babies and young children. It is so much better than letting them watch tv (which we choose not to). The argument that the baby would find the washing machine just as engaging is nonsense. Sure, the washing machine is an object of wonder and interest for a baby, but it can’t compare to an experience tailored to their senses. This is a show created around babies, especially for babies, it is interactive, it allows for a shared experience between adult and child. Here the babies are free to roam the space, to touch and to explore as they see fit. The show evolves around them, it changes with them. Their sounds are recorded and played back, squeals of delight, cries, babbling, it’s all part of the experience. Before entering the space each parent get to listen to their child’s heartbeat through a stethoscope, and are asked to speak their child’s name which is recorded and played back during the show. At one point during the show I was quietly handed a hand written note asking me if I was able to see the space as my child was. I think I was to some extent. A bit later all the parents were invited to leave their baby in the space while stepping out for a short while (about 5 minutes or so) to observe from the sidelines. The space was filled with balloons, some big, some small, some with lights, streamers and microphones. The actors played with sounds, shadows and lights during what I’m guessing was close to an hour (I didn’t look at the time).
Whether or not the participants remember it or not when they grow up shouldn’t factor in as an argument in the debate on whether there is a point in theatre for babies. If that was a factor so many things would be pointless. They wouldn’t remember a trip to the zoo at this age, but would that stop you from taking them? Not remembering does not impair enjoyment and development from experience, does it? I was so excited and happy we got to take part in this. Anakin absolutely loved it, as did I. Coming from a background of studying theatre and years working with children, special needs included, perhaps I am a bit biased. It is long established that special needs children benefit from experiences tailored to the senses, so why shouldn’t any child benefit from the same?
I hope to take Anakin to as many similar things as possible in the future. I aim to open as many different worlds of wonder to him as I can, whether it be the washing machine, a train ride, a park, the zoo or theatre.
The Herald Sun ran a short online piece on the show where young Anakin starred as model; Babies the stars of new Polyglot Theatre show. I’ll admit he was pretty much equally fascinated by the camera and the camera light, as he was the show, but being constantly photographed since birth may have prone him to that.