Deep down, most parents have a love-hate relationship with school holidays. On the one hand, you get to spend more time with your cherubs and on the other hand keeping them entertained can be a challenge. At our house we seek out experiences and try to keep it balanced with creativity, sport, films, picnics, screen time, family games, play dates, adventures and time to be bored or chilled out. The reason we do this is to stimulate interests, broaden little minds, keep them fit and active and to create memories. This last bit is important. Creating memories for our kids is a genuine, sacred privilege. Think about the things you remember from your childhood and consider for a moment what memories you are creating for your children or grandchildren. Create these memories mindfully and you can truly give a gift of joy.
If you are in or around Sydney during the forthcoming Sept/Oct school holidays then you are absolutely spoilt for choice when it comes to exciting activities for kids that will build lasting memories. One of the highlights would have to be the Spot On Children’s Festival at Riverside Theatres in Parramatta. The festival runs from 27th Sept til 2nd Oct and is a veritable feast of memory making opportunities for the discerning parent or grandparent. The hardest part will be selecting which performances and activities to enjoy. There are movies, workshops, playgrounds, musical performances and of course, some of the best children’s theatre available anywhere. If you only have time to attend one performance however, then make sure that you don’t miss The Young King by the internationally acclaimed South Australian theatre company Slingsby.
Here are 10 good reasons why you and your kids shouldn’t miss The Young King.
1. The Young King is critically acclaimed theatre of the highest quality. Slingsby has a reputation for producing original, emotionally complex, whimsical theatre that appeals to children and adults alike. They are multi-award winning and internationally recognised.
2. Oscar Wilde wrote the original story. Playwright Nicki Bloom has adapted Wilde’s The Young King, originally part of his collection of short stories, A House of Pomegranates, and delivers a tale that remains true to the beauty of Wilde’s language and themes, making it accessible and interactive at the same time.
3. The stage-craft is magical. Slingsby’s creative team have utilised shadow puppetry, sound effects, music and innovative set design to beautiful effect. The result is highly evocative and fascinating to watch unfold. It’s clever and simple at the same time and keeps the audience totally engrossed.
4. The actors are really good at what they do. Tim Overton and Jacqy Phillips are superb. Tim is a very likeable Young King that audiences can relate to – making his lessons our own. Jacqy’s ability to create characters as diverse as the grumpy old king and the gentleness of a young mother is a study in acting skills.
5. It delivers universal messages that are still relevant today. The philosophical themes of the story include self-transformation, death and loss, new beginnings, leadership, avarice, beauty, nature and compassion.
6. The language is beautiful. Nicki Bloom has retained much of Wilde’s original text which pierces the philosophical truths that are explored with luscious evocative language throughout. One of my favourites is “Shall joy wear what grief has fashioned?”.
7. You will enjoy it as much as the kids. This is a shared experience that has as much to give you as it does to the kids. It unfolds for you just as magically and mysteriously and keeps on giving with plenty to talk about afterward. You won’t find yourself looking at your watch during this one.
8. There is no sex or bad language! This is completely appropriate, brain-enhancing, gorgeous entertainment that won’t surprise you with a sex scene half way through or be peppered with language you’d rather your kids not hear. I can’t tell you how many movies we’ve got half way through before my 9 and 10 year old are screaming in disgust and hiding their faces while I grapple for the remote to frantically fast forward the unexpected sex scene.
9. It’s just a really good story told brilliantly. The story reminded me a little of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol in terms of the transformation of the Young King. It has that spooky element that the kids will love but it’s not scary. There’s both light and shade and it’s all very human and relatable. We can easily see ourselves as the Young King. We know that in our hearts we carry the same traits but would we make the same choices he does? What sort of a king or leader would we make? It leaves us with plenty to think about and debate with the kids on the way home.
10. And finally, it’s a whole lot of fun. This is a really critical point – this is the part that creates memories. Young and old are encouraged to craft their own crown before the show. The audience are given parts to play and lines to speak. This interactive component really engages the audience, brings out the inner child in the adults and delights the children. There are stories of some grown-ups becoming super competitive about the design of their crowns much to the amusement of on-lookers. The act of crafting with your kids and then wearing your own creation in such a public setting is not something you do every day and it adds more than a touch of magic to the experience – it’s something you will all remember with shared amusement and delight.
So there you have it. Ten good reasons why you shouldn’t miss this one. And I’m guessing that once you’ve ventured to Riverside to see this excellent show you will be inspired to see more. While you’re there, the kids can explore the free playground and activities in the courtyard and around the foyer. It’s located on Church Street in Parramatta which is surrounded by a large number of restaurants and cafes so you can have an easy lunch or dinner with the kids. This is a memory making opportunity that will bring joy to the hearts of the whole family for a good while to come.