Tag Archive | theatre

Off for some ‘Blue Sky Thinking’

I’m taking a little mini-break in Brighton next week. This is because I want to enjoy some of the events in the Brighton Fringe. One in particular!

Who’d have thought that all those little ‘shows’ of Chelsea’s I watched when she was a little girl at home would eventually develop into a real live show in the Brighton Fringe, this year written by her talented partner Rich Foyster.

They’re producing it themselves, having set up their own little Indie company, Popheart Productions, and this time she’s one of the actors too. I can’t wait to see it. Last year’s show sold out and they’re taking that one to Edinburgh in August. Amazing stuff! How did that little girl become so brave and entrepreneurial?

So this is my little plug in support of them:

‘Blue Sky Thinking’ (trailer here) runs from 21st – 27th of May at 8pm and is hosted by The Sweet Dukebox, at The Southern Belle, Waterloo Street, Hove. BN3 1AQ

I’ll let you know how I got on, but being her mother I’m bound to be mesmerised and proud!

 

 

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The curious challenges of an Aspie

You touch him and he screams. You hug him and he lashes out at you. He never looks at you. You have to word everything carefully because he takes your words literally; if you said it was raining cats and dogs he’d expect to see cats and dogs coming down and if there weren’t he’d accuse you of lying.

And his days, life, must have predictable patterns and routines so he knows what sensory bombardment to expect, otherwise he can be reduced to a curled up huddle there’s no communicating with. 

Yet he’s brilliant mathematician and can store data like a computer.

Such is the character in ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time’, the wonderful book written by Mark Haddon, told with the voice of a lad with Asperger’s Syndrome.

And I’ve been lucky enough to go to see the stage production too – a truly amazing experience.

And I say experience because that’s exactly what it was. Even more so than the book, you truly experience some of what it must be like living with a teenager with Asperger’s and the difficulties it presents.

It is so easy to judge and condemn as we sit smug with our ‘normal’ children, behaving in ‘normally acceptable’ ways, and think how we would do something about the behaviour of others we observe but know nothing about.

If you haven’t lived it, you can’t know what it’s like from the inside. You can’t know what’s best to do and certainly aren’t qualified to judge. Some parents have challenges to face we cannot even conceive.

Stories like these go a long way to helping those of us in ignorance to live it and thus understand and appreciate that not every person reacts to life in the same way as our own children do. Everyone has challenges to face. Everyone is different. Some extremely so.

A story can reach an audience in ways a factual text cannot, like this production reached me, because it promotes not only understanding, but ignites compassion too.

And it is compassion we need to practice in order to live alongside one another and all our quirky differences in harmony and acceptance.

Amazing shows and guinea pigs!

Well, it was amazing!20150511_122251

Their production sold all tickets which is a pretty incredible achievement for a fist venture, says she with just a teeny bit of pride. I am choked!

I am also choked because the snag with visiting loved ones is you have to leave them again! Tears threaten and throats go constricted and the journey home is beset with gloom.

I console myself that the girl I leave behind not only has the most loving partner to cuddle her now, where once only mum would do, but she also has guinea pigs!

You wouldn’t think guinea pigs would make such a difference. But there’s something in the deep emotive caring part of our being that flourishes through a connection with an animal.

There have been studies done on it apparently.

Studies or not there was something in my grown up girl that made her feel the need for an animal in her life again. She’d always had them when little when I gritted my teeth and got over my aversion to cages and we had a variety of furry things over the years. And seeing the children calm themselves with caressing a pet, put their cheeks to furry bodies as I held my cheek to infant hair, I knew it was worth it. I watched them virtually dissolve into bliss.

Ironically I’ve just seen the same sensation in my twenty four year old. Pets bring something to life that calms stress and ignites that loving side when it gets buried in the business of life.

I recently read the most beautiful book ‘The Gentle Barn’ about a special centre offering animal therapy to lost and troubled children. The connection to, looking after, and physical proximity of warm loving beings connects children to a loving core that may have been imprisoned by traumatic life experiences.

I think putting on a production for the first time ever may almost have felt like a traumatic life experience for my eldest and her partner! But afterwards I watched some of it leech away whilst holding a guinea pig!

I might try it and maybe I can heal some of the trauma a mum inevitably feels at wrenching partings from grown up girls by cuddling the cat!

A couple of decades later…

Production shot from Decade 20

When you relinquish your little one to the mayhem of backstage that accompanies any children’s production you wonder whether you’re doing the right thing. It appears to be a mad disorganised crush of costumes, dropped make-up, stressed parents and performers and a half dressed chorus line looking bewildered.

I remember a strong desire to snatch Chelsea back to my suffocating bosom and cry ‘You’re not doing it’!

But I got over it, went out front and watched with amazement this perfect little pro overcome her own shyness to do what she loves; perform on stage. (You can read some of this in ‘A Funny Kind of Education’)

I’ve since found out how many actors are shy. Yet there followed from that day many a production, two or three a year, which we sat through and applauded with dripping cheeks, for the next twenty years – can you believe!

Now, all that ground work has culminated in a play that Chelsea, with her partner Rich Foyster, has written, produced, directed and everything else it takes to put on a production – an enormous amount of work, believe me, I’ve had the exhausted phone calls.

What appeared impossible has evolved into a remarkable project I could never have imagined. The play, ‘Decade 20’, is to be performed during the Brighton Fringe on 8th and 9th  of May – just a few tickets left if you’ve a mind for a grown up evening out away from your little ones. Because your lovely children will also one day be staging their own grown up lives away from you and you’ll need to acclimatise!

And even though I still hanker to snatch her back from the strife of life and say ‘you’re not doing it’ and bleed through the angst of those phone calls, it’s just as well not to. For our beautiful children need us to be as brave as them and let them be what they want to be.

I can’t wait to see it. And there’ll no doubt be tears of pride and yet still bewilderment on how a shy little girl could go so far!

Watch the trailer here.