Lizzie’s Bologna Blog Finale Part 1

March 23, 2009

Think this may be my last Bologna blog (in two parts) so a bit of a mish mash of things that I don’t want to forget to say.

Firstly I want to mention that it was great to have a chance towards the end of the week to meet with Helga and Myrto from Toihaus and Valeria from La Baracca. I look forward to meeting them again later on in the course of this Dandelion project.

Another note in my book from the Assitej Forum.
Charlotte Fallon, wonderful director of Theatre de la Guimbarde always has something interesting to say – although I always long to know what she is really saying as she definitely suffers in translation (her own translation!) Anyway this is what I think she was saying. The artist needs to express a strong desire. Your need to be doing what you do, a sense of necessity, draws the child in. You need structure and you need some strength. You must find the spine of the show. Everything mustn’t be soft. This enervates you and leaves you feeling tired. And there is a need for silence. Too much sound. Discover what can happen in the silence.

Then I watched a crazy show that was anything but silent. A one man extravagant, over the top, fun interpretation of the Just So story -The Elephant’s Child- told entirely with tights and socks for children aged 3 to 6. It was highly verbal and raucous and the children loved every minute of it – and it reminds one that there are many ways of taking children on a journey of the imagination. This was a world far away from feathers and sand and natural elements. In many ways it was good old fashioned storytelling that had a witty visual interpretation. I am sure some people will have not found it to their taste because it was quite frenzied at times and the performance style left me a little breathless but I admired the panache and bravado.

My two favourite shows at the festival were both produced by la Baracca. The first was I colori dell’acqua (the colours of water) – a gorgeous show inspired by the spectrum of light – and the second was a new piece E Poi…Cadano – And Then…They Fall… which is exuberant, poetic and playful. The former had a very tasteful aesthetic, gentle humour and utter charm. The latter used a world of cushions, building blocks, hoops, streamers, bubbles and that may make it sound rather ‘obvious’ but it was a total delight owing to the highly skilled and hilarious antics of the two performers which I can only describe as poetic clowning. It seems to me that both these productions understood the breathing and watching rhythm of a young audience. And they were both long enough to be satisfying and short enough to hold attention (I think around 35 mins – the target age for each was 1 – 3). At the end of I colori dell’acqua  the children were invited on to the stage area to play with the coloured water and the various objects that had come into the show – oranges, tomatoes, feathers, petals, lettuce, grain and cloth. The children were utterly absorbed in this activity – very joyously and messily. It’s not a 100% free for all. A child was stopped from eating the squashed tomatoes!

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