Posts filed under ‘Review’

A play on words

Aww yeah, there’s nothing like a bad pun on a Sunday afternoon! Yes, in today’s Editor’s Notebook I am focussing on a different kind of children’s entertainment – Theatre.

Last night I had the pleasure of attending Much Adoe About Shakespeare, written and directed by my dear friend Andrew (who also wrote and directed the children’s play I performed in a couple of years ago, Daisy Sunflower and the Creature – he’s a talented man!).

Much Adoe About Shakespeare

Much Adoe About Shakespeare is a children’s theatre version of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, a comedy about two pairs of lovers.

I shall let Andrew take over the description:

The play is still set in the small town of Messina, yet the locals are a flock of birds. The lyrebirds – Beatrice and Benedick – continually bicker with one another, while the pigeons – Claudio and Hero – are deeply in love and are to be married.

The town leader, pelican Leonato, is delighted with the prospects of the upcoming wedding, although not all the townsfolk are as happy. The villainous magpie Don Pedro, and his bowerbirds Borachio and Conrade, are out to deceive and cause trouble.

Pigeon Pair - Hero and Claudio

Much Adoe About Shakespeare reinvents the original play to appeal to a young audience, however it has a whole lot for adults too.

I laughed, I (almost) cried and I even picked up some fun references to other plays and things that would go straight over the heads of the play’s intended audience – for example, the tagline “A Lyre will not be believed, even when it speaks the truth”, a very clever takeoff of the moral from Aesop’s fable “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”.

The thing I love most about children’s theatre as a whole, which is well represented in this particular play, is the ability to educate and inform in a thoroughly entertaining way.

The not so happy couple - Benedick and Beatrice

In addition to its focus on Australian bird life, Much Adoe About Shakespeare contains important behavioural messages.

Once again, I shall use Andrew’s words, since he’s done a much better job at it than I could:

As many of the characters throughout the play choose to deliberately lie and trick others, the negative results of these actions are explored. As each deception develops in intensity, so do the ramifications and consequences for all of those involved.

Andrew believes the educational merit of Shakespeare’s work is rarely explored or highlighted through performance, particularly for young audience.

Hence, this production aims to make Shakespeare more accessible for younger audiences.

Unfortunately, I wound up going to one of the later shows, so was unable to see the effect of the play on actual children. However, I can say that my inner three year old enjoyed it immensely!

Sadly, as with many smaller children’s theatre shows, this one had a short run, with the final show held at 9.20 this morning. Still, hopefully I will be able to convince Andrew to share some of his fabulous work with us here at Squeaky Shoe Stories (hint hint – Andrew) and maybe one day we will even branch out into Squeaky Shoe Stories Productions! I wouldn’t mind reliving my Daisy Sunflower days 😉

In the meantime, readers in Western Australia should keep an eye on Murdoch University’s Children’s Theatre program. They put on one big show every year (or semester, I forget which) while people like Andrew also put on smaller shows now and then.

Has anyone seen any good children’s shows lately? I hear Playschool and The Wiggles have both been touring, which would be exciting. Not that I’m at all jealous of everyone who got to go to those…

PS, I promise I will have a new story for you next weekend. Hopefully it might even be worth the wait! To make up for it, here is a photo of me as Daisy Sunflower. Gosh my hair was long!

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October 9, 2011 at 3:18 pm Leave a comment

From online to IRL, the benefits of real life networking

Breakfast apple crumble

Last Sunday morning, right after I uploaded Brian’s Tree, I was lucky enough to attend the Chicks in Business networking breakfast at Mooba cafe in Subiaco. (If you go there, I highly recommend the breakfast apple crumble. I loooove apple crumble, so getting to eat it for breakfast? Heaven).

It was a great morning, giving me the chance to catch up with some old friends, meet some people I know from Twitter for the first time, and make entirely new friends.

However, I have to admit when I was invited to this breakfast I was a little hesitant. Previously my experience with networking has been through industry events (as a journalist) and Rotary, networking with men and women with a diverse range of ages and experiences.

I must admit, I questioned whether there would be enough diversity at an event just for women, and mostly women within my sort of age bracket (at a guess, although I’m terrible at guessing ages, no one there could have been much older than 30).

Still, I know and respect a couple of the ladies running it, and figured that if they were involved it would be worth attending.

I am so glad I did, because it was definitely worth it! The biggest surprise for me was that, despite being the same gender and similar ages, there was still so much diversity at the table. Most of the people there were in my position, working a day job and then following their passion in their spare time, so it was great to meet people who do understand that kind of juggling act.

Hot chocolate in a jar - best idea ever? I think so!

But at the same time, everyone was at different stages of building up, and we all had different insights to share.

I think the thing that stuck with me the most was Jana, who runs two physiotherapy centres, who talked about how she’s actually focusing on working less hours.

It was really interesting to hear, because I have always associated running your own business with working day and night. Of course, Jana is still working on her business constantly – she is responsible for everything; keeping it running, making sure it’s profitable, making sure staff and clients are happy, building up business relationships with other local businesses such as doctors, the branding and marketing – it all comes back on her.

So really, with all of those things to take into account, doing less physical work means she has more energy to give to those areas of her business, as well as meaning that she is available to cover staff when they are ill or away, so that the clients have someone to care for them.

When I thought about how much time I spend just thinking about strategies and ideas for this little ol’ blog of mine, I realised how much time a physical business with staff would take, and how much of a commitment it involves.

When you look at it that way, it makes perfect sense to let your staff do what they do best, while you focus on the big picture – something that, according to Aunty B over at SmartCompany, women can be particularly bad at!

Mind = blown.

I think what I really learned from this breakfast was something that I hadn’t really gotten from previous networking events, due largely to the intimate nature of this one. It wasn’t just about making contacts, it was about sharing ideas and experiences to learn from one another.

Having fewer people meant the opportunity to engage in conversations with everyone there, with a nice natural flow between smaller side conversations and group discussions.

Another benefit of the networking breakfast? The goody bags! Yep, I’m a 3 year old at heart, and the pretty paper bag filled with people’s business information, a photography discount, skull pencils (perfect for my new job!) and a jar of hot chocolate mix that made just about the best hot chocolate I’ve had filled me with delight. Oh, and there was even a funky house-shaped stressball from Community News, which my kitten loves to play with. Free kitty toy!

A huge thanks goes out to Nicolette, Carly and Kate for organising the breakfast and giving me the opportunity to meet so many great new people and learn so much.

xx

Chrissie

September 18, 2011 at 11:04 am Leave a comment

Home is where the art is

It’s been a couple of weeks since my last post – bad, I know! I have been working on a couple of stories for you, as well as updating a few things on my blog, but in the meantime I was a bit stuck on what to write here.

That was until yesterday when I was wandering around the fine city of Perth on my lunch break with nowhere in particular to go, and a photography exhibition caught my eye.

You may not know this about me, but I am a photography lover. I don’t have any technical knowledge, or even the ability to do much more than point and shoot (from an artistic perspective, that is), but the photos that go beyond the subject, right through to the soul? I have no idea how people achieve that, but it amazes me.

This particular photography exhibition, called Home is where my heart is, has a whole extra layer of depth given that it is an exhibition dedicated to capturing the reality of youth homelessness.

Held as part of National Homeless Persons Week, Home is where my heart is is a collaboration between the Youth Affairs Council of Western Australia (YACWA) and Propel Youth Arts WA.

Under the program, young homeless people are partnered with young emerging photographers to create a series of photographs depicting what home is to a homeless person. The photographers are on hand to help the young homeless people to understand the technical aspects of photography and enable them to create the images that will best represent their home.

To quote from the program available at the exhibition, “it is the simple act of sharing knowledge and skills that makes this exhibition so powerful”.

Powerful is the word for it. While the photographs themselves are striking, it is the spiels that accompany them that really make the exhibition work. Each young artist has provided a written explanation as to how they define “home” and why the places in their images mean so much to them.

For the technically minded, some displays even feature a wall-mounted iPad with video of the young artists discussing their works.

But, why am I writing about a photography exhibition on a children’s story blog?

Well, for one thing, I feel like these are children’s stories – the real stories of young people who, for whatever reason, haven’t had an easy life. According to YACWA, there are more than 6000 homeless young people on any given night in Western Australia.

That’s a big number, and when I look at the children and teenagers I know, I would say that one is too many.

But secondly, I think that this exhibition presents a great opportunity to open a conversation with your own children about the different ways people live their lives. I’ve had a pretty blessed life; while my parents definitely went through times of hardship we always had a roof over our heads, food to eat and clothes to wear.

Now, as an adult with my own house, I try to always be grateful for those things – even when my clothes have holes or my shoes are falling apart, I still have all I need to live on, and that is more than so many people can say. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that, because it is so easy to take the things we do have for granted.

This exhibition is a beautiful reminder that there is beauty in everything. That everyone can find a place to call home, even when there is no roof and no food there. And that we could all afford to take a little more time to be grateful for what we do have and worry a little less about what we don’t.

For more information on Home is where my heart is, visit the website: http://www.propel.org.au/projects/HIWMHI

Home is where my heart is will be open until August 13 at 834 Hay Street, Perth, opposite His Majesty’s Theatre.

All profits from sales of the prints go to services that support young homeless people.

August 9, 2011 at 10:32 pm Leave a comment

The ultimate e-book experience

The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore

Perhaps it’s the three year old inside me, but I love Pixar films. I mean, I really love them, perhaps a little too much. Just ask my fiance – I bounce and squeak when something exciting happens, and cry buckets of tears when it gets sad.

Still, when I heard that author and former Pixar animator William Joyce had released a digital book, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore, through his new venture, Moonbot Studios, combining traditional storytelling and digital animation, I got a little excited. Ok, a lot excited.

In addition to the story, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore is also a short film, although I have yet to watch that.

Needless to say, I had pretty high expectations of this e-book, and it did not disappoint.

Morris Lessmore is a sweet, poignant tale about a man who dedicates his life to books, only to have them all taken away in a big storm. As he discovers other peoples stories he is able to discover his own again, all while sharing the stories with others.

I think the thing that makes this a stand-out for me is that it does not rely on the music or special effects to engage its audience – the story itself is engaging, while the effects simply serve to enhance the story.

The use of classical instruments to highlight moments throughout the story was beautifully done and for me was reminiscent of seeing the Western Australian Symphony Orchestra play the tale of Peter and the Wolf as a child.

If you ever get the chance to attend a symphonic version of a children’s tale I highly recommend it. It’s amazing how much of a story can be told through music.

The animations themselves are restrained, allowing the storytelling to take the front seat.

Morris Lessmore living the dream.

Coming back to Morris Lessmore, one of the things I found most interesting was the story behind the story.

In the first video covering “The Making of Morris”, creator and director Joyce talks about the three main catalysts for this project.

One was the life of Joyce’s mentor, Harper Collins’ Bill Morris, who dedicated his life to sharing stories with the world.

The second influencer was University of New Orleans children’s literature teacher Coleen Sally, who Joyce described as a vivid character.

“She believed absolutely in the power of a story to change a life, and I felt like she needed to be in this short as well,” said Joyce.

The third catalyst for the creation of Morris Lessmore was Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans in 2005.

“The streets were filled with books, washed away from all the libraries and people’s homes, and that just seemed like a perfect symbol for what had gone on and it worked really well I think for our film, that people were looking for their stories again,” Joyce said.

I think the thing that stands out for me about Morris Lessmore is that it takes e-books into a new realm. It is a true hybrid of film and storybook, which to me tells of the real potential of e-books beyond just digital copies of regular books.

The e-book The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore is only available for iPad at the moment. You can buy it in the iTunes store (rather than the iBookstore) for $A5.49.

The movie can be downloaded for $1.99 and I don’t think it’s limited to iPad users – it doesn’t say iPad only, so that has to count for something.

I’d love to hear from anyone who has watched the film or read the book, so check it out and tell me what you think!

If you’re interested in finding out more about Moonbot Studios or Morris Lessmore, try these links:

http://www.moonbotstudios.com/

http://www.morrislessmore.com/

Also, if you are interested in reviews of other games and applications for Mac devices, check out Rambling Aussie, a blog for Mac gamers.

xox Chrissie

July 24, 2011 at 2:47 pm Leave a comment


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