The 4 Festival and the Three Day Play: Liberty and Owain.

This summer in our back yard nine children devised a play over three days and performed it for the parents on a hot afternoon (alleviated by bottles of ice cold rose). It was run by Gomito, a theatre company I love and admire here in the UK. There is something to this collaborative, devised theatre that is so good. The play was called Topsiccum and was the story of  the people of Topsiccum. Their old, grandiose town leader is chased by two assassins working for an evil queen through portals to different worlds.  A community disrupted, a community healed. Of particular note was the cheesy, scene-stealing death my own son stretched out over several minutes when as the King of Candy Kingdom he was poisoned in a potion-switching game of chicken.

Yesterday we had the 4 Festival. It was strange explaining to the adults that it was the vision of my 4 year old daughter. She got the DJ, she planned the make-up tent, the inflatable swimming pool, the stuffed animal tent (we are in the tenth year of soft toys, they fill a tent), the story corner, the slack line - we told her class at Homerton and Heritage about it and invited the neighborhood kids and they came, first as a trickle, then like a real festival, with parking problems and everything. Children poured obscene amounts of poster paint and filled part of our fence covered with white paper - but mostly just enjoyed pouring the paint. Kids fell into the pool - especially after an impromptu game of bobbing for apples. A large patch of the lawn we are reseeding, and to protect it created a barrier out of chopsticks and string and filled the space with all the little plastic figures which multiply obscenely in middle class homes. We had horses, bunnies, rhinos, giraffes, Moshi monsters, Bakugan, Skylanders and for every one of them three dinosaurs. This post-modern circular zoo sort of became the focus for the dancing, especially when we had the kids going around it walking like Egyptians. Owain acted out a story with toys called Future and Past Collide! Speedracer and a gaudy French knight on horseback were locked in eternal combat through all space and time, and in this chapter fighting amongst the giant dinosaurs. One of the DJs, who was being supplied with Prosecco instead of being paid was really into it, and so were the kids. I was surprised that the canopy with nothing but a few chairs and piles of Donaldson-Scheffler children's stories was one of the most popular. We went through tons of guacomole and a hundred cupcakes and at 3:00 we had to make a beer run. I think next year we may have the 5 Festival.


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