Friday, 11 October 2019

LIFE LATELY // How A Stage Performance Changed My Parenting

Our first experience of stage school

Stars of the stage, hey, I never thought that in my children's' young years how captivated the whole family would become at the thought of theatre taking over our lives. I have written many blog posts about how we take the children to see theatre plays all the time. Over the years we have worked with Lincoln Performing Arts Centre (LPAC) and The New Theatre Royal, Lincoln, on show reviews and lifestyle experience we have had with them. They have often sounded pretty similar in review (we get an excellent caliber of talent here) but what I always have focused on is just how wonderful these theatre experiences have been for the children. Never in my wildest dreams though had I ever thought we would be experiencing watching our own children on stage like we did at the end of the summer.

We came back from Italy on a Monday and on the Tuesday night the children were back at rehearsals for the annual CATS performance. Now, unfortunately this wasn’t the Andrew Lloyd Webber version of the feline musical, but a Charitable Amateur Dramatics Society variety performance. Our children, through links with the dance school and class teacher joined this group early spring this year and back then, we had no idea that the whole experience would culminate in the spectacular way it did.
You see, we gave up all our Sunday afternoons, and some full days through the summer and really it wasn’t until the last week when we were rehearsing at LPAC, a theatre we had seen the pros at many times, that it really hit me, just how big this whole thing was. Now CATS in its own way is a stage group who put on a performance each year. The kids had to go to audition to get in and within that also were able to opt in to specific singing and tap dancing numbers. As both the children have tap as a discipline at their dance school I knew they would be able to do it. However, the other dances were more general and accessible to all levels of dance. The age range also was from 5-16 and then adults, so the whole show had a variety of dances from juniors, teens & adults.

Anyway, I digress from the point of this post which is I watched my children perform a huge orchestrated show for three nights and couldn’t be prouder of them. In fact, our two kids have done more on stage than I ever have and to be quite honest handled the whole thing so well. To say that final week was an easy one would be a lie, in fact it was stressful beyond belief and having never done it, Rob and I really found it hard. The rehearsals were all fine but our kids' attitudes were not. Overtired, over excited; we pretty much just shut ourselves away for the final few days. However, every tear and tantrum was 100% worth it when those kids walked out on stage and their faces lit up as their eyes caught a glimpse of the audience. I have never felt as sick with nerves as I did waiting for the opening number to finish knowing the kids were on second. Oh my Gosh, but they came on and they did it, and then performed 6 more pieces and a huge walk on at the end. OH MY GOSH! This really is a post about us being super proud of our kids. But actually, many more lessons about our parenting flowed from these stage shows.

Rob and I seemed to have forgotten what discipline was like. I mean, I am bad cop, through and through, and I do run a tight ship and expect a lot from our children. But our kids are wonderfully behaved, polite, kind (most of the time) and just nice people to be around. That week though Rob and I were so stressed as the kids were just shit. And what was hard was that we actually realised we never need to parent bad kids. They usually responded to the stern stare, but that week they just stared right back! Having finished it all I have to say though, them being over tired and grumpy really was worth it. Those stomach cramps Rob had to deal with (100% due to this stress) disappeared after night one and we actually got what the whole point of this experience was. 

Understanding more about back stage theatre productions changed our attitude with the children during the days that followed. In fact the Friday following from opening night was one of the nicest days I had with the kids in the summer. Just a genuinely happy day. It helped that Etta slept until 10am but we stayed in pyjamas until 4pm and just watched movies and played in front of the TV. It was just a nice day that only came along due to the experience we were in the throws of. 

Having come out of it all I can safely say it’s changed us. The kids seem older, confident, inspired to dance and perform and I, well I just get it. I get that the children need a life full of music and kitchen dancing because they just become so creative with it. Raph is detailing tap dances, stating how good different songs would be to perform to. Etta is coming up with routines for the next talent show, she wanted to get her friends round just to have a dance party and she keeps singing one of the songs the older girls (her idols) performed replicating their dance moves and just wanting to be cool like them! 
Theatre brings children alive. The magic of watching theatre is that you can physically touch the characters, you see them there performing before you and a simple story has meaning, has a face and for kids, that is eye opening. Performing on stage changes you. Our children have changed from this experience. They will do this again; it’s a safe and loving environment full of friends, old and new and it’s a real family, and it really feels like that.

CATS has been unbelievable, I mean, it’s been magic and it really has inspired all of us.
 I would suggest finding local stage schools and dance schools if you feel your child would benefit from performance practises. Etta is a very nervous performer but she really came out of her shell in this whole experience and countless people have told me that Raph is made for the stage. So for two very different children, this has really hit their needs head on and provided a wonderful experience for both of them!


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