The Railway Children taster session
This was a tricky write-up for me, and quite so tricky that I was even delayed in getting it finished for which I humbly beg pardon. The tricky part is that we love the Creation Theatre Company, but in the end my daughter Maya (8) didn’t love this session.
Maya helped contribute to another write-up for an online workshop for ‘Alice in Wonderland’ from the same company which she absolutely loved when she joined in the early weeks of UK lockdown back in April - you can find our rave review of that below.
Now granted, I think that children and adults alike are a little more burned out with online interaction than we all were in April. Most of my family-and-friends weekly quiz nights have naturally wound their way around to eating their own tails now that we’re more able to connect face-to-face again (albeit at a remove of a few steps!).
I think kids are a little less enthralled with the screen now as well. Aversion by over-exposure perhaps. Still we always have a lot of time for anything involving acting, hence our natural enthusiasm to take part in this session.
The other thing that differed this time was that it was a bigger group, eighteen in all. Maya spoke about it being harder to see and hear people, about more children having connection issues, sound and video not always syncing up so well, and so forth. Possibly some of this could have been at our end of course, and it’s an occupational hazard of Zooming, as we all know well by now!
Maya recounted various activities, including the adventure from the book of trying to flag down the train to stop it colliding with a landslide on the tracks. She described the activity of waving red things in the air as “a little boring.” One activity which went down better was celebrating a friend’s birthday, thinking about gifts for that family member and the teacher then showing screenshare of relevant images of those imagined presents.
Maya mentioned that gallery view seemed to be in use most of the time unless the teacher was speaking. I guess this is also a difficult compromise in Zoom with large groups, between letting everyone be seen, and letting there be focus on the current participant in an activity. She recounted some activities as seeming to have been “rushed through” and said that whilst the teacher was funny and friendly he did seem to address the group as if they were “younger”. She said she struggled a little to maintain interest.
One thing Maya particularly liked in the session was the use of effects. A moustache effect was used at one point, overlaying on the faces of participants, and a train effect and linked activity where the children appeared as if in the window of a train. She did note though that everyone took a turn and it “took a long time to get through.”
Her favourite activity was the courtroom one in which everyone voted on the verdict for the father of the story who was on trial accused of being a double agent. The voting was done privately by clicking a button and it was fun, reported Maya, to see the results at the end. She did note regretfully that this, along with most of the other activities, didn’t seem to her to involve a great deal of acting. There was waving out of a train, acting like a train, being a still image in a newspaper showing differing emotions, but overall Maya longed for more opportunity in the session to be creative and to act, for more chance to speak in character.
She did like the story though - she’s going to read it! And we’ll be staying big fans of the Creation Theatre Company as a whole. I do hope we get to see an actual outdoor performance from them again sometime soon - I’d love Maya to see one of their Shakespeare productions.