Following my Own Advice

I while back, I wrote some tips about taking your child to the theatre for the first time.

Luckily, I started out by following my own advice.

At about 20 months I took my daughter, Avi, to see a children’s play as performed by high school students, City Mouse and Country Mouse.  About 40-minutes long, it was perfect for the four-year-olds in the audience.  It was too long for my daughter, but here are some things I learned about her and what we did to make it a fun experience:

  • Since I didn’t know how she’d handle the lights turning out, we stood in the back of the auditorium until the show started.  As it turned out, she got scared of the man doing the pre-show announcement.  His voice was projected loudly due to the mike he held.  So, we went to the lobby to wait out his announcement.
  • Right after he finished, the lights went out.  We walked slowly back into the darkened auditorium while I whispered in her ear about why the lights went out.
  • Together, we stood in the back of the house.
  • Eventually, she decided she wanted to sit in a seat like the rest of the audience.  I made sure to sit a couple rows away from everyone else because it was clear she was going to comment and ask questions the entire show.  Even with an audience full of children, I didn’t want to be rude.
  • She enjoyed the singing and dancing the most.  And got restless during the scenes, even if they were active.
  • When the mice pretended to lie down and go to sleep, she got worried about them and thought they were hurt.
  • When the mice left the stage, she got nervous they wouldn’t come back.
  • Ten minutes before the end of the show, she decided she was done so we went back out to the lobby for a run around.

Now, it’s also important to remember that my daughter is the child of two theatre professionals so she already knows what a stage is.  After the show, the actors came into the lobby to meet the children.  This was particularly wonderful because it allowed the children in the audience to see that actors are real people too.

In the end, Avi had a really great time, and I did too.  I let her take the lead so she felt in control of a potentially scary new experience.  We did a lot of whispering so she could vocalize who she felt and what she saw and I could explain things to her.

We liked it so much that, a couple weeks later, we went back for another show, The Fabulous Fable Factory.

This time, Avi had an even better time because she knew what to expect.  However, she kept calling the actors mice!  Even though they had no ears.  The cast came into the audience a lot, so they left the house lights slightly lit.  This, it turns out, was fantastic because it didn’t add the element of darkness to the unknown.  If you can find (or request it) a children’s theatre that will leave the lights slightly lit, this is a huge benefit.

This time, Avi lasted the entire hour long show and clamored for more.  Success!

Stayed Tuned for the next  post, What Happens when I DON’T Follow my Own Advice.

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