Guest explorers Arlo & Macy and mum Kate recently tried a new concept theatre production called DIG by beautiful The SEAM and Drop Bear Theatre and enjoyed exploring with different materials, musical instruments and their setting. Here's their review for us .
Children are wonderful teachers – they innately understand the nature of play and exploration, and every child comes to a new space in precisely the right way for them.
From the creative team who brought us Rain; Drop Bear Theatre and The Seam are collaborating once again on a brand new work for toddlers. DIG presented by Arts Centre Melbourne is a performance installation which is still being devised and yesterday we were fortunate to be a part of the explorative process.
We are welcomed to The Pavilion, by performers Sarah Lockwood and Carolyn Bechervaise from Drop Bear Theatre. Both took the time to personally introduce themselves to all the little participants and hand out short pieces of thin, black rope that resembled little worms and became an instant source of entertainment. After sharing information about the show and what to expect, we were instructed to remove our shoes (we opt to ditch our socks too for extra tactile stimulation) and were then led through heavy black curtains into a dark space with dimmed stage lighting and long cylindrical objects made from stuffed gold satin, which look oddly like door draft-stopper snakes! This was a perfect transition space for the children; to gently introduce them to the darkness and provide a tangible/familiar object that they would see again in the next room.
After a short performance by Sarah and Carolyn, in which they both used imaginary play and vocal sound effects (at one point I actually thought there was a frog in the room!) to interact with the children, we were introduced to musician and fellow performer, Zoë Barry. Zoë peered out from underneath the curtains and invited us to follow her through the tunnel into the main installation space. It was here that we were greeted by another dark room with dimmed lighting but also (and most excitingly) the space was filled with an assortment of materials just waiting for us to dig, build and deconstruct.
Without hesitation, Arlo and Macy ran into the room and immediately started to explore the big sheets of industrial felt, plastic sheeting, coloured foil wrapping and large gold satin ‘snakes’. Squeals and laughter soon followed as they began to touch, smell, crawl and jump on, roll over, carry and scrunch the different materials around the room– sensory exploration and free play at its finest! It was so lovely seeing all the little ones and their carers using the space in different ways and not only interacting with each other but also with Sarah and Carolyn who continued to move around the room hiding underneath felt, tickling toes and pretending to be a variety of different creatures and objects.
It didn't take long before Miss Macy went off in the direction of the melodic sounds of the xylophone where Zoë was entertaining a group of mini music lovers. Soon enough Macy started jingling a string of little bells which were attached to Zoë’s xylophone. Arlo, sensing that his sister had ditched him for another activity, quickly trotted over to join in and picked up a large sleigh/ bell stick and despite it weighing nearly as much as him, he was determined to contribute to the percussion ensemble.. It made lots of noise, fun!
Before we knew it, our session had come to an end and we happily provided feedback to the performers and other members of the creative team from The Seam so they can deepen this new work.
As we navigated our way out of the space and matched all our socks and shoes correctly with their rightful owners, we couldn't help but reflect on our morning and how crucial it is to include sensory activities in your child’s life; stimulating their senses and allowing them a space to play, create, investigate and explore.
DIG is a truly unique show, an immersive visual experience that we certainly cannot wait to see grow and return to Arts Centre Melbourne next year.