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by Jeffrey Tan

Between the 7th and 19th of March 2009, I saw six out of the twelve theatre productions presented by Act 3 International as part of their annual Prudential Children First! – Singapore International Festival for children.

Quite a few friends have asked, why am I watching all these children’s shows? Is it because I am working for the arts council? Or do I miss my Act 3 days working with the company? Or am I interested to continue creating work for children?

My experience at the six productions brings home the point that good children’s theatre is not just child’s play. Although it is children centered, it has to be imaginative, playful, engaging, educational and complexly simple. A tough balance that is difficult to achieve.

The production that moved me the most was the world premiere of Mimika Theatre (UK)’s Small Worlds. Six inspiring stories, told through six characters living in one small world under a white tent. Yes all thirty of us audience members (made up of mostly children and a few adults like myself) were invited into the intimate white tent and a magical story unfolded through film, visual theatre and puppetry. The wordless production had both the children and adults totally engaged and mesmerized that speech became not important. I was struck by the intricate details on the small puppets and the very well structured dramaturgy, in linking the six stories into one world small world. I became a child again, playing and enjoying with the other children.

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