Our lovely new friends at Assitej South Africa called us a couple of weeks ago to see if we had any children we would like to take to the Masque Theatre in Muizenberg.We quickly said yes! Of course! Not only did they subsidise the ticket price but also paid the transport (by our other trusty friends, Oceans Tours) from Redhill to Muizenberg. Thank you Assitej!
Ten children, who are part of the Children’s Book Network, came from Redhill and bravely jumped into their first theatre experience.
They became very shy as they entered the foyer of the Masque Theatre which was jam packed with people of all ages and abilities. They displayed even more timidity when we were invited to take our seats in the large and dark theatre.
Even if the children couldn’t take in all the language and storytelling throughout the play, there was enough physical animation and puppetry to convey the story of a young child who discovers his warrior spirit despite being crippled and confined to a wheel chair.
It was challenging to coax the children to comment on their experience after the show so I focused on encouraging them to introduce themselves to Damian, a very small sixteen year old confined to a wheel chair, who was in the foyer.
Damian is the son of Deidre Gower who wrote ‘Warrior on Wheels’ from which the play is adapted. He seemed very shy surrounded by all the children and the attention. After a bit of interaction aided by his mother, in the end however Damian was visibly sad to leave his new friends.
My sense was that the CBN children were somewhat dumbstruck after making the connection between the main character in the play and meeting a real life example of a Warrior on Wheels right after the show. Without this last experience I don’t think the experience of the play would have been so powerful for the children. At this point of the sojourn I think the children had reached their threshold. I didn’t ask anything more of their attention, allowing all of us to loiter with some apples in the sun outside, waiting for the minibus.