Kids Thrive is producing Cha Cha Sam’s Postcards From Nanna, taking in regional libraries to start conversations about cultural diversity.
Here are Tales From The Road…
After a full show in Echuca last Friday afternoon, it was quite a relief to have our first show back on Monday with a beautiful audience of just 32 people.
Our bump in was aided by the lovely Alex and Oliver, who ran back and forth with our gear with Alex announcing that he loves all things tech. Alex proceeded to be coached to plug in and tape down all our leads, all the while discussing how he codes apps! We discussed all things tech – projectors, cables, plugs – and we were (rightfully) impressed by his fantastic tech knowledge. Every opportunity is an opportunity to learn. So, Andrea demonstrated to him how to tear gaffa tape (a vital skill in the tech world) – funnily enough, Alex’s response was, ‘I knew I was going to have to learn this one day’!
Today’s Postcards from Nanna show was much more intimate, and in many ways, it ended up as more of a conversation. We learned some great trivia from our audience members too. Among others, for example:
‘How many people live in Timboon?’
Oliver (8): ‘One hundred and something.’
Suddenly having only 32 people there seemed like quite an achievement! Actually, the population of Timboon is around a thousand (so I suppose Oliver just rounded down).
At one stage, the librarian, Sue, strolled in with a babe in arms. Not so unusual, but it did look rather oddly like someone had just returned a baby through the book chute… Or perhaps that was just me who saw it like that!
Postcards from Nanna is one of those shows that involves moments of such ridiculousness that it can make you feel like the whole world is surreal and absurd. It is wonderful how quickly the audience accepts you playing a dog, or playing a parrot, and how the absurdity of it gives permission and freedom for roaring laughter. Often children’s shows use a convention where something in a world is simply ‘accepted’. Of course a parrot can talk. Of course a dog can have opinions. I wonder if this instantaneous acceptance of the strange and absurd is something that we grow out of, or if we’re just told one too many times, ‘Don’t be silly.’ Maybe the instruction ‘Don’t be silly’ is really the silliest of all…
After the show, Alex also helped us to bump out. He commented on the pack up that ‘it takes much less time to bump out than it does to bump in.’ Very true – disassembling and tearing something down is much quicker than the arduous and time-consuming precision of setting up. It started a philosophical discussion of the appeal of destruction. It requires no patience to destroy something, to tear something up, to rip something down. The instant gratification of getting rid of things can be addictive.
Perhaps, we mused, that’s the appeal of war. People become obsessed with the instant fulfilment of destroying something, rather than the genuine gratification and satisfaction of building and developing their community. In a world where we are encouraged to be less and less patient, less and less willing to invest time and money in the long-term, and more and more obsessed with having things right here, right now, no excuses, perhaps war and fighting is more easily sold as ‘inevitable’.
The effects are passed down from generation to generation too, which makes the problems even more insidious – the effects of trauma, substance abuse, and the depleted capacity to be calmingly, trustingly present are destructive not only to oneself, but to their entire family and wider community. I always think of a card from Adelaide that we have stuck to our fridge, ‘The idea that you can win a war is like saying you can win an earthquake.’
What does peace look like to you? Is it slowing down? More time with your children? More time painting or reading or writing? Less time judging others, gossiping or critiquing? More time to build, create, and invest in something that might take you days, months or even years to complete. The rewards of time, patience and investment are so much greater than the instant (and often fleeting) joy, followed by the niggling pangs of regret or guilt.
As parents, carers, aunts and uncles, we are in it for the long haul with our young people. I find it funny how people always say, ‘You’re having a baby!’ perhaps forgetting that this baby will one day be a four year old, a ten year old, a teenager, an adult… Working with young people requires patience, investment, and often many challenges along the way. Always celebrate the journey as much as you can.
Thank you to the librarians, Leonie and Sue, for allowing us this beautiful show with lots of opportunity for reflection. If our differences can exist in the same space we are a long way along the path of resisting the false economies of fighting, war and the instant gratification of destruction, then we can spend our time making something special and lasting with our children that they (and generations to come) can enjoy for years and years.
‘I like the dance of our names
And that we’re not all the same
I like the ways that we’re different.’
from Ways That We’re Different by Cha Cha Sam
A big thanks to VicHealth, Arts Victoria, The Australia Council for the Arts, Public Libraries Network Victoria, and the Australian Institute of Social Relations for helping us to bring Nanna to the road.