I was in Oxford last week at the Playhouse because I was performing in a beautiful play called Dreams Come Out To Play, a co-production between the Birmingham Rep and Knavish Speech.
It is a play for under fives, for the very littlest of people and acting in it was a total joy; not only is interacting with one year old audience members utterly amazing, to see them respond so honestly and uncomplicatedly to the stimulus of live performers in a live space but the experience was compounded by an excellent cast and crew. Indeed, it is rare to fully gel with a company of actors and technical crew but Dreams Come Out To Play proved to be a welcome exception; plenty of banter, plenty of silliness and no petty arguments.
It’s been a while since I’ve taken part in theatre for children, especially for an audience this young but without going all misty-eyed and romanticising what is a ‘tough crowd’, it really is a priceless experience for the actor and one that hones your focus, commitment and sense of communication. The performance is imagined as an arc or a constant echo: one that comes through me, to and through the child-spectator who returns it to me and from that expression I re-launch the performance. It’s all about being responsive and engaged and the rewards for actor and audience are many.
Luckily, the experience is set to be repeated at the end of September, when we spend a full two weeks in Telford, the home of the blogging legends that are the Merk, OMR, Fulla and the Stavros who I am looking forward to hooking up with for eight pints in The Crown and perhaps having a drunken fumble with OMR…