Tuesday, October 17, 2006

We've Been in Narnia for Years and Years....

...have you missed us?

It seems that way, at least. And now it's over. We're back. And it's kind of sad.

Sure, we'll have pictures and a DVD, but it's not the same as sitting in the second row and watching a live performance of "Deep Magic"--such a powerful scene, with the whole cast intensely focused. No camera can capture the experience of live theater! And I never could get decent pictures of Blondechick 13.9 in her coolest dances--"Turkish Delight" and "Hot and Bothered"--or of Bantam 11's swordfights, because their scenes all took place in red light or the half-dark. (I did manage to get these shots during "Deep Magic"--that Cruelie front and center in the second photo is my daughter, and in the third picture, she's the foremost Cruelie to the left of Aslan.)

Never again will these kids play these roles, at these ages. Never again will this cast, this directing team do this production again. Like childhood, you can't freeze these moments in time, and of course you wouldn't really want to, but they shine so brilliantly for a short time, these kids, giving their all, their best, to the audience--and then all too quickly, it's over.

But as I've said before, what will last are the lessons learned. And we've all learned so much! Lots of practical stuff we'll use in other plays, of course. Blondechick 13.9 learned tons about dancing and acting from the choreographer of this show. Bantam 11 rose to the acting challenges of his role with more confidence and stronger focus than he's ever displayed before. I developed organization and makeup skills I'll surely use next time we have another complicated show (which will be next spring, when we do Seussical). Bantam 15 is more of an old stage hand than ever, and Bantam 7, who ushers, knows the inside of that theater like it's his own house. (But next time, if his audition goes well--he'll be on stage!)

But my kids have learned so much more than acting, singing, speaking and dancing. They've also learned about being a friend, dealing with difficult people, appropriately relating to the opposite sex, refraining from gossip, boastfulness, and selfishness, rejoicing with those who rejoice, and looking to the interest of others before yourself. Who needs a curriculum to teach character when you have real-life situations to discuss? We talk all the way to each rehearsal and all the way back, about everything that happens. I try to really listen, but I also freely offer my advice when they're open to it. I find that they are especially willing to listen when it's practical advice in a specific situation--what to say if they need to apologize, or deal with a friend who is jealous or possessive or always mad at them or is always distracting them at inappropriate times.

Of course, we also end up talking about their crushes, and it's surprising how much they'll tell me and how much they'll listen to me. We've discussed especially the differences between guys and girls and how that translates into thoughts, words and actions. My kids are the perfect age for this, of course--they're still young enough to want to tell me everything. Once I jokingly, but with a sort of nostalgic sigh, said to Blondechick 13.9 that I was so glad we could talk about everything now, because the day would come when she would figure out that she didn't have to tell me everything that happened to her. She laughed and said, "Well, even then, you know I still will, because I won't be able to help myself!"

Since I know the kids involved, I can speak with more wisdom than I can when it's someone on their soccer team or at youth group--the places where parents aren't expected to be involved, unless you're a coach or small group leader. If I wanted to hang out sometime with the youth group, my teenagers would be soooo embarassed, and if I brought along my preschoolers, they would just die. But at theater, parents are not only welcomed, they are embraced in we're-so-glad-you're here, we-could-not-do-this-without-you bear hugs of encouragement and affirmation--and if you need to bring along your little kids, fine! At every gathering, whether it's the Opening Night Party, Cast Party or let's-all-go-to-Portillo's night, whole families attend together. And the Strike Party is all about honoring the parents' contributions.

So I know their friends, and their friends' parents--I've worked with them and celebrated with them. And these parents have worked and celebrated with my children. They've trained them, encouraged them, disciplined and affirmed them. One highlight for my daughter was when the choreographer--who is also a parent--told Blondechick that she'd shown so much improvement in her dancing and she was so proud of her. Blondechick answered that she had been surprised when she'd been selected to be a Cruelie, a difficult dance part--she knew her dance audition had not been that strong. When Mrs. King responded, "I believed in you," it meant so much to her that she teared up.

Each show is a lot of time spent, that's for sure, but we get a lot in return--voice lessons, dancing instruction, acting classes and many hours spent together, instead of all the separate things we'd be doing if we weren't involved in theater! Not to mention Christian friends for my kids, Christian adults speaking into my kids' lives, and grist for the mill of discussion that we use for character training. All in all, I'd say it's a pretty fair return on our investment.


Cool Mama said...

Wow..what a wonderful testament to you and your involvement in your kids lives. It seems so often we are putting our kids in activities that 'we' the parents, are not really welcomed to...or wanted at. To see and hear what this time did for you and your kids, is really inspiring!

RANDI said...

What a wonderful experience! You obviously have a great connection with your kids and it is great that working in this play brought you all closer!

Pete & Mary said...

I totally teared up when I read about B13.9's encouragement from the choreographer. Girls at that age need (and I think often don't get) the kind of positive adult encouragement that says "you CAN!! and I believe it enough to show you!" I am *so* glad for that, for her! I hope she keeps talking to you for a long time to come. :)