Isaac Theatre Royal, The Gloucester Room, Christchurch

03/07/2018 - 08/07/2018

Production Details

Up and Away is a playful and gentle theatrical performance created exclusively for babies.  

Fragments of everyday life are elevated from the ordinary to the exquisite, through the exploration of live music and play.

A cosy and safe atmosphere is created by way of a small number of attendees and a requirement that only pre-walking babies may attend. Up and Away takes place in a carefully crafted cocoon in the Gloucester Room at the Isaac Theatre Royal.

Through this carefully created sense of calm, babies are given an optimal environment from which to engage and explore along with their caregiver. We encourage the audience to come as you are. Every baby will respond differently to the performance, and we embrace that.

This production is informed by current neuroscientific research and has been developed in consultation with a speech and language therapist through a series of rehearsal workshops with babies.

Up and Away is performed by Amy Straker and Hannah Wheeler, and directed by Melanie Luckman. This production has been developed in partnership with the Isaac Theatre Royal’s Company in Residence programme and supported by Creative New Zealand.

Isaac Theatre Royal – Gloucester Room
3-8 July 2018
Performances at 10am, 11am and 1pm
Running time approx 30 minutes
Tickets available from Ticketek.co.nz

Performed by Amy Straker and Hannah Wheeler 

Theatre , Children’s ,

30 mins

A kind, gentle, relaxing, delightful treat

Review by Erin Harrington 03rd Jul 2018

Cubbin Theatre Company’s first production, Up and Away, is aimed at the youngest and most under-served of theatre audiences: babies. The show is set within a large play tent within the Gloucester Room at the Isaac Theatre Royal, with cushions and seats available for caregivers and observers, and lots of space for the infants to crawl, roll around and tug at one another’s booties.

Throughout the intimate 30-minute show, performers Amy Straker and Hannah Wheeler, who are seated in the centre of the mat, move us gently and calmly from morning to night. This very loose narrative scaffold offers up moments that provide opportunities for play, music, vocalisation, movement and shifts in sound and light. These range from the splashing sound of raindrops and the hum of bumble bees, to the introduction of twinkling stars and, finally, the appearance of a glowing yellow moon, which is passed from child to child. The capacity is limited, so that the performers are able to engage with the babies individually, and the result is that the action feels particularly tailored to each audience member.

The company, led by Melanie Luckman, has worked with a speech and language therapist to find the best ways to communicate with and engage the young audience. As such, the beats of the performance are constructed around the careful establishment of a pattern, be it vocal, movement-based, or percussive, and then the introduction of some sort of surprise. It’s all very slow, kind and gentle – whimsical without being twee or condescending. I come away feeling far more relaxed than I have in weeks.

From an observer’s point of view, much of the show’s joy is in watching the infants engage not only with the performers and their caregivers but with one another, as they become cute, squishy, occasionally unruly participants in the activities. The production design itself is also well-considered, and clearly a great deal of thought has gone into the performers’ simple costumes and the gentle shifts in light and sound.

The adults are completely delighted – I eavesdrop on their gushing after the show – and the babies are entranced throughout. There is clearly a community-building aspect to the creation of the work, too. So many public and artistic spaces are hostile to parents and children, so being in a theatre environment where unpredictable babies, armoured prams, and breast-feeding are welcomed is a huge step in ensuring the accessibility of art and entertainment to caregivers as well as to the youngest of audiences.

I’m neither an infant nor a parent, but you’d have to be a baby-hating grinch with a lump of coal for a heart not to see that this is a pretty special experience for big and little people alike. It’s delightful. Did I say it’s delightful? It’s delightful. Borrow a baby if you don’t have one, for the show’s a treat.


Editor July 8th, 2018

This from the Spinoff:  https://thespinoff.co.nz/parenting/06-07-2018/why-we-need-more-theatre-for-babies/ 

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