We bring kids together in schools, in daycares, in libraries to connect on a carpet. To take a moment to sit as equals around something that holds value. The value inherent in TWEET TWEET! (Femme du Feu, Toronto) is subtle at first, and then grows. My first thoughts upon walking into the theatre are, selfishly, about easy and comfort – I’m checking out how the seating will work, and find that both my eight-month-old baby and three-year-old are comfortable sitting with me on a plush, moss-like carpet that encircles the playing space. We are as close as can be to a statuesque set piece that arcs up to the ceiling – an enchanted tree holding two baby birds in their nests.
The value of the show shifts and blossoms once it starts – I realize that I’m sitting in a theatre, on Mother’s Day, with both my kids. No one is restless and both are smiling. Norah (the baby) is gazing at the shapes and colours in amazement, her arms up and open as if to receive everything. Elliot (the preschooler) is engrossed in questions about the story, pausing every so often to gaze through his toilet paper-roll binoculars at the “birds” swooping on the aerial apparatus in front of us. The show was a gentle spectacle, a feast for little eyes. I didn’t expect to be able to share my joy of theatre with them in this way until they were much older.
I want to take this show and transplant it to every library or community centre circle time. This is rather flippant wishful thinking, of course, because budgets are tight and time is even tighter. But what I mean to say is this: when we ask our kids to form a circle around something, let’s make sure it’s something of value. And let’s make sure a lot more of it is art.