Friday, September 30, 2016

Painting with a Magic Brush: Fun Facts & Giveaway

I Theatre's The Magic Paintbrush is back in the theatres after 16 long years!

Here are some fun facts about the acclaimed I Theatre production. If you read carefully and answer the questions below, you might just get a chance to win two free tickets to the play!

1) In 2004 the play was made into a book, and published by Marshall Cavendish. It sold out! The books are now very rare as it was not reprinted.

2) In 2000, I Theatre presented 13 performances in a 300 seater theatre. This time they are presenting 24 performances in a 609 seater theatre.

3) The Magic Paintbrush was presented in 2000 by Imaginarts, the parent company that spawned I Theatre in 2001 - and the income from The Magic Paintbrush helped to launch the company.

4) In 2000 they had a cast of 8 actors and 27 puppets. In 2016 they have 9 actors and… count to see how many puppets!

5) For 2016 there are two brand new characters - Peony Blossom and Lotus Flower. Exactly who and what are they? You will have to watch to find out!

6) It took six weeks to build the scenery, and two days to install it in the theatre.

7) The actors only had three days in the theatre to get used to working on the stage, with all the props.

8) For the 9 actors, there will be over 25 different costumes, and each actor will have to change costumes up to 10 times during the play.

9) There will be approximately 150 lighting changes during the play - and the play is only 75 minutes long!

10) This will be the 82nd main-stage production that I Theatre has presented in Singapore (not including their overseas performances!)

Parenting on Purpose is pleased to partner I Theatre to present 2 tickets for the 11am show on Saturday 29 October 2016.

How to qualify for the giveaway:

1) Like the Parenting on Purpose Facebook page.

2) Share this blog post on your Facebook Wall and tag three friends (not including the friend who had tagged you. Remember to ensure that privacy settings are set to "Public".)

For an extra chance to win:

Comment on this post and share with us one interesting thing you have learnt about The Magic Paintbrush and why that interests you! Please leave your email so that we will be able to contact you should you win the contest!

The giveaway will end on Sunday 9 October and entries must be submitted by 10pm.

And the winner of the giveaway is....

Agnes Chin!

Please collect the tickets at the I Theatre office before 28 Oct from 10.30am to 5.30pm.

Address: 27 Kerbau Rd, Singapore 219163
Phone: 6341 5960

Congratulations Agnes!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Twinkle Twinkle: A Review of I Theatre's "Little Star"

The little star shone brightly in the living room of Cosmo and Celeste; a dazzling display of brilliance and enchantment. Lost in the midst of their squabbles, the brother and sister pair realise that there are better things to do than to fight - they need to help the little lost star find its way home! And so it's off on a grand adventure. Is the star's home beneath the deepest depths of the sea? Is it beyond the furthest reaches of the galaxy? Or is home really where the heart is?
Little Star, Little Star, how can we help you find your home?
Little Star is I Theatre's second production intended for younger audiences between the ages of 2-6. The first performance, Round the Moon, Blue the Sky, was a regional collaboration with Asian theatre powerhouses in Hong Kong and Japan. But Little Star represents a first locally for I Theatre in its outreach efforts to younger theatre audiences. It also represented an experiment by Artistic Director Brian Seward, who creatively stitched together various theatrical effects in order to appeal to younger children.

The black light theatre undersea effect was reminiscent of an earlier production this year, The Rainbow Fish, which I Theatre performed to great success by immersing the audience completely in darkness from start to finish. The Little Star production, while adapting some of the elements from The Rainbow Fish, had its own appeal, and the young audience was treated to lovely dances from the fish, as the adventurers scoured the seas in search for the supposed home of the little lost star.
Does the Little Star belong in the depths of the ocean? Will it find a home there?
In addition to the visual effects, Little Star also created a whole new world of imagination through the use of puppetry. The three major characters each had a life of his/her own, and the actors did their best to speak through the brightly-coloured puppets.

An I Theatre production would not be complete without a good theme. For Little Star, it incorporated familiar concepts of childhood curiosity and individual exploration, as embodied by the human characters Cosmo and Celeste. The brother-sister pair exhibited aspects of sibling rivalry which all young children can identify with. Both children also illustrated an innate desire to explore and to seek out adventure, an occurrence not uncommon with children of that age. I Theatre pieced together these interesting elements seamlessly, and incorporated them into the broader story of the siblings' search for a home for Little Star.
He ain't heavy. He's my brother.

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
How I Wonder What You Are

Children young and old have always looked up into the sky, and marvelled at those tiny twinkly things we call stars. What are they? Where do they come from? Our human minds can only compare them to diamonds in the night sky. But if we stare hard enough into the vast expense above, and search the inner recesses of our hearts, perhaps then we could possibly find an answer to the numerous questions that bombard our minds.
What answers lie within us, within the recesses of our heart?

Artistic Director Brian Seward and the cast of Little Star.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Sensory-Friendly Play at the Theatre: A Review of the Esplanade PLAYtime! Series 2016

It was a musical thriller for the senses! Eddy, the Bird Who Was Afraid of Heights, was going all out to rescue his friend Matt the Rat from the clutches of the evil crow. The children witnessed the entire drama unfolding in front of their eyes via different mediums such as light play, wayang kulit, and human puppetry at its finest. And the crowd of kids from preschools and special education schools across Singapore were completely mesmerised! Coupled with catchy tunes, memorable characters and a large component of audience interaction, the performance was truly Children's Theatre at its best!
Esplanade PLAYtime's The Bird Who Was Afraid of Heights has larger than life characters 
that fly into the hearts of the kids.
Kids were enthralled by the use of light play and other theatrical delights.
The Bird Who Was Afraid of Helghts is the third production from the Esplanade PLAYtime series this year which introduced sensory-friendly elements in order to make theatre more accessible to children with special needs from all ages and abilities. Esplanade says a sensory-friendly performance has the following features: a generally brighter environment with no total blackouts, no sudden loud sounds, as well as free and easy access into and out of the theatre during performances. And, if kids need a place to take a break and relax from the performance, they can also head out to a space created specially for them - PIP’s PLAYbox, which is located just next to the theatre.
Pip's PLAYbox is a lovely space for kids to relax and chill out.
Sensational Play has been supporting the Esplanade by loaning our items for
the kids to enjoy!
Parenting on Purpose has had an exciting journey with sensory-friendly productions. Since we were invited to take part in Singapore's first sensory-friendly performance by the Ministry of Bellz earlier this year, we have been privileged to be part of a group of individuals who were consulted by the Esplanade on how to make a concert sensory-friendly. This was in order that children with special needs would be able to enjoy the arts without getting a sensory meltdown at the theatre. Given our increasing involvement in the area of special needs (through our store Sensational Play and our training arm The Social Factor), as well as our background as educationalists, we were glad that the segment of the population with special needs has been getting more attention here in Singapore - a key highlight has of course been the 2016 National Day Parade, with my long-time theatre idol R. Chandran helming a segment featuring participants with special needs.

And so Parenting on Purpose has been privileged to be at all three productions of the Esplanade's PLAYtime! 2016 series which featured sensory-friendly elements.
Esplanade's plays have a strong audience participation element and children love helping the actors
in little collaborative tasks.
The first performance, Bunny Finds the Right Stuff, was adapted from a popular children's book by author Emily Lim. It spins the tale of a soft toy rabbit Bunny, who just didn't feel right with the way she was. As such, Bunny gets the help of her friends to find the right stuffing needed so that she would not be floppy anymore. But what is the right stuff? And is our identity related to finding the right stuff?

The sets for Bunny Finds the Right Stuff were delightfully illustrated yet simply designed.
My two kids, then aged 5 and 3, loved the Bunny production. Its interactive elements left many in the crowd wanting more. A case in point was my 3-year-old's desire to give his stuffed toy bear to Bunny, in order that she would be able to "feel right" again. Both boys also loved the catchy songs and the excellent acting and puppetry by the four-person team of Andrew Marko, Bright Ong, Lian Sutton and Selma Alkaff.
Meeting the sharks. Lighting has always been a strong element of most of the PLAYtime plays.
A wonderful and interactive time for the kids.
The second production, Grandpa Cherry Blossom, is a retelling of a popular Japanese folktale, Hanasaka Jiisan. It tells the story of Ojiisan and Obachan, an old couple who longed to have a child but couldn't have one. Then one day they found a little puppy and decided to care for it. Little Shiro, whose fur was as white as his name, was the apple of their eye, and the old couple showered all their love on him. So the little dog decided to repay Ojiisan and Obachan for their kindness. He had a secret that no one else knew about - he could sniff out gold! What happens then when Ojiisan's evil neighbour finds out about Shiro's special gift, and schemes to keep the dog for himself?
Grandpa Cherry Blossom featured characters who were larger than life and much loved by the children.
Esplanade keeps its production ideas fresh. In this scene, the animated river comes alive to share its
tale of how Ojisan finds little Shiro.
Grandpa Cherry Blossom transports the audience into heartland Japan, with its quaint traditions and deep respect for honour and gratitude. Any student of Japanese culture would be fascinated by the extent that the drama took to transport its audience into the Land of the Rising Sun. And the story was told with stunning digital animation and fascinating light play, to complement the excellent acting of the four cast members. 

Spectacular digital animation was a key feature of this production, presenting to the audience the
ethereal and magical nature of the story.
It has been a most enjoyable journey partnering the Esplanade in its sensory adventure. Through it all, the experience has made us more aware of the needs of those around us; everyone after all, needs to be be the opportunity to be exposed to the arts. Consider my older son, aged 6. He has had outings to the theatre since the age of 2/1/2. From a child who used to be scared of clapping in the theatre, he has grown into a boy who choreographs his own theatre performances at home, complete with "black light theatre", puppetry and "audience participation". I can see how comfortable Z is with theatre and the arts, and as a parent, that really beings me great joy. Perhaps one day I will see my little boy directing his own plays, or being an actor on stage; and that, I believe would be a day I look forward to!