Monday, October 08, 2012

The Snail and the Whale

So excited for The Snail and the Whale at the Singapore Repertory Theatre!
So excited!

Sometime last year-- or maybe it was Christmas the year before-- Sophie received the activity book to The Snail and the Whale from my friend Khanh Duc who lives in the U.K. She fell in love with it almost immediately-- you know, because of the whale-- and I had to get her the storybook just so we could find out what the story was actually about. Since then, it's become a solid favorite and regularly comes up in our nightly bedtime reading. It's a beautiful story about a tiny snail's immense wanderlust and how it ends up saving the life of the "great big grey-blue humpback whale" (Sophie's favorite line from the book...)

And so two months ago-- literally a week after we had just arrived back in Singapore-- when I found out that the Singapore Repertory Theatre was going to be putting up a production of the story in October, I jumped at the chance to get tickets. They are a little pricey, I have to say, and probably not something we can do on a regular basis, but Sophie (and us too) had a wonderful time, which made it so worth the while.

We only told her we were going to the play on Friday night-- she's at that age when telling her things too early in advance only frustrates her because her grasp of time is still sort of tenuous-- and it was the first thing she asked about yesterday morning when she woke up. She got washed up and had breakfast in record time and we didn't even have to ask her twice to wear her shoes (which usually takes her forever...) Nearly bursting with anticipation by that time, she still managed to make sure she brought her copy of The Snail and the Whale along and even wanted to bring her whale plush toy with her, but changed her mind in the end because she didn't want to lose it at the theatre.

And she had an awesome, awesome time :) The production company did a fantastic job keeping the play intimate, interactive (complete with squirting water at the audience!), and funny enough for a three-year-old to appreciate. They used the book as a metaphor for a more melancholic story of a daughter missing her seafaring father, which I don't think Sophie got, but that Jude and I kind of liked actually. Props were cleverly used (customized modular furniture were re-arranged to form the shape of the whale) but modestly and sparingly so it didn't get too overwhelming for the kids or distract from the story.

Having such a good time!
Super grainy picture from during the play

Sophie was entranced from beginning to end. She would periodically ask worriedly, "Is it ending yet?" and settled back in comfortably when we said no. And when the 55 minutes was over, she asked plaintively, "Can we watch it again?" like it was one of her beloved Kipper videos. We had to explain to her that a play involves real people acting 'live' and that you can't just watch it immediately again from the beginning, and promised to take her to more plays in the future. That seemed to satisfy and we spent the rest of the day talking about her favorite parts of the production (when the father-- the whale-- was tickling his daughter-- the snail) and the parts she didn't like so much (any parts involving crashing waves, thunder, or lightning).

We of course had to read the book before bed last night (and tonight too) and she actually started singing some of the lines in the book just as the actors did in the play. The story has gained greater resonance for her now that she connects it to a different context and we're glad she got that experience to enrich her already deep love for the book.

More photos here.

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