Review: Sam Pig at the Theatre

I excitedly ordered the hard-to-find children’s book, Sam Pig at the Theatre, part of a British series. Alas, that’s the last time I trust Amazon’s claim of age range. It is not for children 2-4. In fact, I’d likely read it to a five or six year old. It does, however, answer the question “what is theatre?” in story format.

Sam Pig and his family are invited to a play on Midsummer’s Eve. They join the rest of the farm animals in the horse’s barn for a home-made performance of Cinderella. Now, here’s where it gets exciting. Unlike much of live adult theatre today, the audience gets to participate. In the ball scene, for example, they all dance. Sam Pig himself gets to dance with Cinderella, who runs away only to leave behind a little straw slipper. The Sow tells him he must try the slipper on everyone in the barn to find out who it fits. When he protests, she reprimands him that “This is theatre and it’s all pretence.” And so he plays along.

The book ends with Sam and his family trundling home.

“So that’s a theatre!” said Brock. “It was grand! And you, Sam Pig, were the Prince!”

Sam said nothing. All his thoughts were on the little piglet called Cinderella whom he had kissed my the light of the turnip lanterns.

“But it’s all pretence,” murmured Ann, and the others echoed, “Yes. All pretence.”

This, of course, delightedly explains how actors become actors: they fall in love with the cross between fantasy and reality. It may not be a picture-book, but it’s still a good read, and very appropriate for starting a discussion about theatre, pretend, real life, and stories.

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