A Play that Brings Parent to Infants’ World – – Funny Scary Things
original article written by Cicily Chen
(translated to English by Bossey Kong, edited by Demi Lau)
Hello, I am Cicily. And I am honored to participate and witness the birth of the baby theatre performance Funny Scary Things.
This non-verbal performance is played by two actors. While we don’t have to depend on languages to enjoy a show, we need body movements, facial expressions, environment or rhythm to deliver the messages that are usually brought about by speeches. It brings even more theatrical experiences to younger audiences, also more challenges to director and performers.
Two children share toys and space without knowing each other, that’s how the interesting story begins. They meet, they conflict, and when they finally play together, a sudden ring breaks the peace. They are in panic, and start to fear……
I love the interaction between the sound effect and the actors very much. The sound effect is like the third actor, an important one in the story, it does not just help the development of the plot, but suits the cognitive rule of young children better.
When the ‘Ring’ effect is on, the performers portray how two children face unknown fear while exploring the world with body gestures. First, they are stunned, frozen, then they scream, run away and hide, and that is ‘SCARED’ – human’s primary emotion ‘FEAR’ – which protects toddlers from dangers.
Although the adults may naturally interpret the ‘Ring’ as a phone’s ringtone, no one knows what will the ring change in the story. Without language barrier, when an unknown plot occurred, the mood of parents and children are tied together. ‘I have never thought he could be relaxed in such a crowded space; he was interested to the sound effects. I can feel that when he was nervous, he would stare at the actors and squeezed my finger very hard. He would lie on me when he was relaxed’ a parent of a 14 months old baby said.
A study on baby theatre from Scotland See Theatre See Play categorized two forms of audience engagement in baby theatre into ‘Absorbed Engagement’ and ‘Interactive Engagement’ as ‘see theatre; play theatre’. As Funny Scary Things was totally ‘Absorbed Engagement’, which means ‘see theatre’, the attention to details and distinctive laying on plots development and actors’ expression gave the parents a chance to observe their month-age children with a proper distance and experience their feelings.
This is the magic of theatre. In a safe and relax environment, the parents and children could try to appreciate an unfamiliar story, experience the mood change together in the same space and time. ‘After watching the performance, I have more understanding on my child’s behavior, his acts and reactions.’ A parent of an 8 months old baby said. They are always in the struggle between ‘try to refrain from the fear of unknown, calm the themselves from scare’ and ‘irresistible desire to the unknown.’ I think, to build a parent-child relationship, we need not only intimacy, but also understanding.