Friday 14th October 2016
This morning, I had the opportunity to share with my little lady something I’ve loved since I was a little girl: the theatre.
We were invited by Northern Stage to watch a performance about parenthood by Tangled Feet – aptly named ‘Kicking and Screaming’.
Like a tiny bomb exploding in the middle of your life, the baby arrives, and suddenly the world you knew becomes a different place entirely. How do our priorities shift when we become parents? How do we adjust – and what happens if we don’t?
A baby is more than Natasha bargained for – and she’s also wondering whether boyfriend Jay will ever grow up.
As a flood of plastic balls and children’s toys is unleashed in the middle of their marriage, Sam and Ronnie struggle to stay afloat despite their careful plans.
An honest, funny and touching show with a live score played on children’s instruments.
The performance was at 11am – a very baby-friendly time. Especially for us since we had to get to Newcastle City Centre from Blyth. It meant we missed rush hour traffic, had enough time to pack the pair of us up for the morning as well as drive there and get parked.
Upon arrival, I was greeted with friendly staff at the box office and at Stage 2. Especially as I had the first hurdle to overcome- where are the baby changing facilities??
Northern Stage is currently undergoing a bit of a makeover in prep for Christmas time. This meant that the changing facilities next to the stage we were in were out of use. However, one of the members of staff was only more than happy to show me where the other facilities were. He was as kind as to take us down in the lift and walk us there.
I thought this was fab service, as an owner of a small human, things like toilets and baby change facilities are like the mothership.
They even took me to the changing facilities and set the board down for me while I was carrying Ella. Couldn’t fault them for service at all.
Even when we went into Stage 2, I was shown where to leave the pushchair and encouraged to sit on the front row.
I took Ella and my bag of bribes and settled ourselves on the front row. I had a bag of rice cakes opened and at hand as well as some milk. Luckily I didn’t need these until about three quarters of the way through, which I was super impressed with her.
The director introduced the show and informed us he had a nine week old baby himself. Cue echoes of empathy/sympathy/best of luck wishes from the audience. Another member of the production had a baby too and this was how the whole baby-friendly performances came about.
He explained for us not to worry if the babies made a noise, or needed changing or feeding, or bobbed about in the corner. I half expected to be the parent doing the bobbing with Ella but she completely proved me wrong. She was engrossed with the lights, the music, the colours, the interaction.
On with the show.
The narrator opens it with this beautiful piece, which you can watch here – alongside some clips from the performance as well as audience feedback:
In the past seven months of Ella’s short life, I feel like I’ve been every single character in this performance at some stage.
It’s really quite raw and, after a rough night with Ella and a morning sponsored by caffeine – this performance easily brought a few tears. Tears of joy and laughter at activities such as putting together cot furniture and buying baby equipment,muddling your way through and the domestic disputes it brings. Tears of sadness at moment’s like Ronnie’s where she has a breakdown. Those early sleep-deprived days where you’re just trying to survive. The mental battle further down the line when things become mundane and constant. Dark moments which we all experience in some form or another.
I loved the scene Insomnia: I can’t get no sleep. It had the dance music, the dark and the disco lights.
My hubby and I have been both of the two kinds of couple’s that are featured in this sequence. The couple trying in vain to get the baby to sleep. Willing, pleading, doing everything they can think of. The couple who manage to escape to a nightclub, dancing carefree letting their hair down. Only to be reminded by the narrator that they’ve got a baby at home. Ouch. Been there and done that. Not a pretty experience – especially the next day.
I also loved the part where Natasha is all ready for a night out. She’s pumped her breast milk, bottled it and put it in the fridge. She’s about to leave when the baby cries, cue the million questions from Jay of what to do and where everything is. And the inevitable of something going wrong. VERY relatable!!!!
Part of the staging is to flood the floor with plastic balls and toys. It’s to resonate the mess and chaos in our lives as parents. It’s cleverly choreographed and well timed about halfway through the performance, when you expect the little ones to become a bit restless. This sequence is repeated a few times during the latter part of the performance.
Towards the end, I’d shifted from bouncing Ella on my knee to standing her in between my legs. One of the character’s had put a toy on the floor and offered it to her. She took it and started to play with it. I shimmied off my chair and sat with her on the floor to watch the finale.
The overall experience was a good one. I was initially nervous as I was attending by myself with a baby in tow. I’d never been before and I was a bit apprehensive as to what to expect. But it was all made at ease by the staff. And meeting the lovely Canny Food.
The experience has been a positive one.
Introducing Ella to theatre in a baby-friendly environment.
Getting to watch a theatre performance for the enjoyment of myself.
Being able to relate very much so to parts of the story – the mundane life of parenthood and how you can become detached from the ‘real world’. But you persevere.
We find our tangled feet and get our act together.
Whether we’re dragged there kicking and screaming or not.
Love Missuswolf xxx
Next Baby-friendly showing – Sat 15th October at 2pm at the Northern Stage. Tickets are £15.50/£13.50 concessions
Image and You Tube video from Northern Stage and Tangled Feet