Monday 18 August 2008

The Point of a Festival

What is the point of a festival? To entertain, to educate, to include and to provide something for everyone. Sharon May's production of Where the Wild Things Are did all these things.

For two hours, over two consecutive Sundays, the children of Central Edinburgh and South Edinburgh Quaker Meetings put together their production, making shadow puppets in the first week and rehearsing the piece together on the second. Our venue technician David Clarke had kindly given his time to set up lighting and build the screen.

The lights dimmed, and in a clever computer effect the title being projected onto the screen dissolved away. Sharon narrated and the children acted as puppeteers as well as providing sound effects, such as the gnashing of the wild things' teeth, and in unison some dialogue, as when Max threatened to eat someone up or when the wild things pleaded with him to stay.

The puppets had been coloured and then oiled so the light would shine through; this worked brilliantly, bringing everything from Max's bedroom to the trees, and most especially the wild things, vividly to live.

To put a together a production of such charm, humour and poignancy in such a brief span of time is no mean feat and a credit to all involved. Sadly for anyone else wishing to see it, this was an exclusive and one time only performance, strictly by invitation.

It entertained the adults in the audience, as well as the children who performed so well in it. But more than that it provided them with an experience: for three weeks we have a proper theatre available, and in past years it has sat empty on a Sunday morning. How much better to have used it to include everyone in the Festival. What is the point of a festival? Surely, among of there things, it is things like this.

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