Sunday, 22 May 2011

Rip Fold Scrunch

A big cheer! We've been to the Tobacco Factory Theatre again today and you know how much we love that place. Not just for its community feel, the market, the cafe and the chance to peep in at the classes going on there but, mainly, because it brings us innovative and fresh theatre productions at an affordable price.

This morning our treat was Rip Fold Scrunch, a three-person performance that uses paper to inspire children at play. Half Moon Young People's Theatre taught us a thing or two. Like, just what is it possible to do with a sheet (or several dozen) of paper?

Well, to start you can rip it, fold it, scrunch it and the show, aimed at 2 to 5 year olds, used a movement based mantra to illustrate this - even a toddler with limited vocabulary would have grasped the meaning of those three words - Rip. Fold. Scrunch.

Once you have your raw material, you can make rain or you can dance, maybe fish for creatures, throw and catch it, swim in and through it or fight with it. Butterflies, kites, umbrellas, masks, spirals - all of these things are possible with a bit of paper. Set to the cello, played live on stage, we watched our hosts fashion all sorts of wonderful shapes. The dance was fun and the dancer's ankles were adorned with bells, making her tinkle everywhere she moved.

Little voices laughed as the cast teased each other, using facial expression and emotion that was so relevant to its audience.

We went with friends and our three reception year girls sat on the front row, giggling, whispering and nudging each other.

"Are you thinking about the end?" Emelia asked her pals. Yes, they were thinking of exactly that because they understood that, then, they too would get to go on the stage and play with the paper, letting loose their own imaginations.

My highlight was the Wizard of Oz moment when the white paper used throughout became paper of colour. Every colour. And then ....

The performance was over but, for the kids, the fun was about to reach its heights. It was so interesting to see the girls express their own individuality, those personalities unique to each of them bursting through. Emelia, the thinker, could be found sitting on the floor of the stage, ripping a small piece of paper incredibly slowly and noting the result as it made a tiny noise, the jagged edges being guided this way and that by her steady little hands. Celeste, the artist, found the biggest piece of white paper she could and arranged small, coloured squares upon it. Ada, the communicator, couldn't wait to talk the performers, she played the cello, she asked questions of the cast and interacted with the awe-inspiring confidence.

After the show, we sat down for a cuppa or an ice-cream and I had to ask my own question, though I knew the answer.

"What was your favourite bit?"

"When we got to play with the paper," it came in unison. Paper. These children use it everyday but now they might just think a little more whenever they put a pencil to it.

Upcoming Tobacco Factory Theatre shows can be found on their website.

For more information about Half Moon Young People's Theatre, see

Written by Becky Condron

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