As part of the next instalment in La Boite’s Indie season, we were treated to a first a performance where all the actors were under twelve years old.
Joy Fear and Poetry, directed by PhD candidate Natasha Budd worked with over one hundred kids over two years to create this group devised and improvised performance that begins with a child approaching the microphone and directly speaking to the audience in her native Swahili. I’m going to perform for you…I will be the adult now and you will be the child. An eight year-old boy then joins her in his native Tongan tongue, followed by a nine year-old girl in English.
The double-cast of eleven performers present a diverse range of cultural backgrounds of what it is like to be a child in our present day. Occasionally an adult (Dash Kruck), joins the children in a question and answer time to draw their thoughts and inner meaning provoked by works of art.
The format of the performance is very different from traditional theatre – it involves play, improvisation and exploration, question and answer time, direct address, monologues, multimedia with a live feed, and does not have a linear narrative. This flexible format is not only engaging for both the audience and participants, but also showcases the immense talent on stage with many of the youngsters displaying additional dance, singing, or musical abilities.
Children’s games such as spotlight, haunting nursery rhymes, a ‘live’ mock celebrity interview with a children’s band, children’s artwork, dance-offs, songs, DJ live mixes, and monologues of past memories all featured in the eclectic mash-up of Joy Fear and Poetry.
The set design is a formation of asymmetrical shapes like a cardboard cut-out cubby house and acted as the perfect space for the children to play around as well as have a little stage on a platform in the middle of it. Much of the multimedia was also projected onto this structure, which provided a visual feast of written text, artwork, images, and video. The structure was cleverly outlined by an animated beam of light, which was a nice touch by designer Joel Redding.
Overall, Joy Fear and Poetry is a delightful show full of surprise and wonderment, and dare I say joy, and provides a refreshingly different experience to what we expect from the theatre.
The show runs for 1 hour with no interval and is suitable for children aged seven onward.