Today Ann and I took Crystel and Antonio to the Children's Theatre Company presentation of A Special Trade. It was nicely done, with singing and dancing and puppets and spontaneous audience participation - "Can’t you see her? She's over there! Behind the fence!" - but the play was essentially two people representing Johanna and Me, baby and grown up, neighbors and good friends. The actor playing Me got stiffer and older as puppet Johanna grew up into beautiful actress Johanna, and eventually I got sent to the hospital for a prolonged stay, and when I came out I was puppet Me in a wheelchair and Johanna pushed Me around while we laughed and sang. I hated it.
The kids were fully engaged and laughed at the silliness and slapstick.
On the drive home we asked them what they liked about it, and when my turn came I said "I liked the puppets." Crystel asked "what puppets?" I explained "well, Nelly when she was a baby, and Bartholomew after he was in the hospital, and the dogs…" They really had done a marvelous job with the human actor in clear view behind the puppet, vocalizing and controlling without really being present, and I thought I'd explain that to the kids. I said something about the role of puppets and imagination and… It's not so much that I lost Crystel and Antonio at that point, but that I lost them while A) I was in the full flow of intellectual discourse regarding creativity, and B) they were in the back seat with four beanie babies putting on a six person show needing no props, no script, no rehearsal, and no audience.
Ann and I, in the front seats, imagined continuing to apply our dull grown-up standards: "These kids just aren't listening. They'll never learn to be creative if they don't get the proper theoretical background. Harumph!"