Friday, 4 March 2011

But it won't pass us any exams

We take the kids to 108 Heroes: Tales from the Water Margin at the Lyric Theatre. I confess my ignorance. The plot? The characters? The settings? Like, um, what's happening now?

No one comes to grit's day for the quality of the theatre reviews, huh?

Well, I excuse myself. I write primarily to provide a record of education in case some officious little warrior from a shire-bound Local Authority gets antsy with me. I can point here and say, Yaboosucker!

So the kids liked the performance. Even though it was three hours long. That was hard work for me. But there was acrobatic bouncing on a mat. (Not by us.) Tumbling too, which was impressive to a type of fifty-year old woman who spends a long time sitting on her backside. There was ribbon dancing, intricate and beautiful costumes, dramatic makeup, and some village destruction followed by extended fight scenes with shiny swords. (Scenes which went on a bit too long for my comfort. I don't want impressionable young ladies getting any ideas.)

Then there was the main reason why I chose this one. To have the kids hear fusion music performed live. Traditional Peking opera-style singing, cymbals, drums, the instrument that goes ping! plus rock chords from a rock god. Or so I took him to be, from the coiffured and stretched-trousered young man who lounged on stage fondling a guitar, when all the women screamed. (Except me, obviously. I just went Uh?)

But it was great material for discussion. We had that alright. East-west, stage conventions, Peking theatre, fusion spectacle. It's one of those experiences where me and the kids are probably equally matched. I'm learning alongside them about the theatre of China. Stage crossing diagonals; walking while gliding; tiny steps for women; striding steps for men. The kids help me out.

It's helped our Western values education, clearly. Ironic in that the Chinese actors we watched were astonishingly young: one superb tumbling 17-year old acrobat spent the performance walking, dancing and jumping from a squat and bent position, playing the dwarf tiger.

Dismaying and uplifting. Dismaying, because this is Hong Kong China, and I bet there was a single focus goal to all those educational years. Broad? Balanced? Breadth of experience? Those don't figure so much here. But you create a young teenage acrobat capable of launching themselves across the stage from a crouching position and already specialist in operatic military parts. Uplifting too, because it's good to see professional, polished performance of any age. I'm grateful for that, respectful of the thousands of hours of hard work it took to get there, and aware of what gives in a life to make it happen.

There. Job done. Now if any little antsy warrior is looking to take me on regarding my educational provision, just try it. After a three-hour stage performance and a two-hour discussion on east-west fusion theatre, I'm so strong armed in educational righteousness, I don't need the bloody sword.


Angela said...

I admire your three (plus two) hours endurance! Just think what your three girls get to see and learn about, whether it makes them pass exams or not. I wish these island-children here on the Baltic Sea would have such broad knowledge of the world outside! You are doing a great teaching job, Grit!

MadameSmokinGun said...

Blimey. I thought we'd done well today playing Dance Central at a chum's house for about 3 hours. Well I learned alot...... such as: a) I must throw away this dress thing as I look look like Mrs Overall in the playback and b) must get a long mirror for the house to avoid these problems in the first place. See? Highly educational.