A few weeks ago, the ladybug and I, plus our neighbor and her daughter were able to check out the Chicago Children’s Theatre and Red Moon production of The Elephant and The Whale at the Ruth Page Center for Arts. The Elephant and The Whale is the last in this season’s offerings, and as expected was a visually entertaining piece for sure.
I will admit, right off the bat, I was a bit worried that my four-year old ladybug, and her five-year-old guest, really wouldn’t get the entire thing after we got almost 10 minutes into the story. Essentially, I didn’t think that they would see past the puppets literally being manipulated by the puppeteers. Especially since they aren’t full bodies that hide the hands of the actors. sometimes there was only a large face. I thought that they would be confused, except something happened, and they weren’t. It’s magnificent to see the way adults process things so differently than children.
This is the story of two unlikely animals coming to be friends in they very unlikely setting of a traveling circus. The way that the Elephant gets there seems plausible, but you really have to let go of all of your logical thinking to really be able to enjoy the play. I’ve realized that sometimes adults are too stuffy, and we can’t take things as they are presented to us. This is how I was able to honestly and truthfully enjoy the play. That’s not to say that it’s horrible, not in the least. It’s just that you still have to hold on to all of the fantastical from your youth to really get it. To feel it. To love it.
I was surprised to see tears slipping down the ladybugs face during one of the many times that the whale happens to sing (played amazingly on a handsaw with a bow) through the play. When the play was finished, I asked her why she cried, and she stated that “she felt sad for the whale, because he missed all of his friends and could only talk to the elephant who couldn’t swim with him.” Pretty heavy words for a four-year old, I think. Words that let me know that she got it. She got the sadness of being cooped up somewhere without your family. She got the loneliness that both animals were feeling, and THAT let me know that this play did exactly what it was supposed to. It spoke to a child through the arts, and left this mama feeling pretty darned proud.
If you are wondering where you heard of the Chicago Children’s Theatre before on my blog, we were also able to see this series of stories by the great Eric Carle last year, that both the ladybug and Lil Miss enjoyed thoroughly. Little teaser, it’s also the place where Lil Miss took her first steps. 🙂