By Sara Dudley Brown, Theatre Editor
When I see a show that makes me want to run home, get out my pots and pans and joyously drum on them with my wooden spoons and then turn cartwheels and do somersaults on the carpet, I know something extraordinary has just happened. If you are a parent or grandparent of little people who are ages 2-5, gather them up and take them to a delightful theatre run by Arts on the Horizon in the Lab Theatre at Convergence in Alexandria, Va. There is a room for play pre-theatre and an inviting space in which families can sit with their toddlers around the stage so the little guys can get their first taste of interactive theatre close up. Plus, there is a parking lot nearby.
And theatre it is! The two brilliant actresses chosen for this show are quite experienced in stage work, but they utter not a word. Instead, they move, dance, hop, skip, drum and yes, even somersault their way into your hearts.
The story is very simply about finding a real or imaginary person in your kitchen cabinet and learning how to play together. In this case it’s two young girls (actresses playing children convincingly) who meet in a surprising way, then set about playing, laughing and learning things about each other, while a live guitarist/foley technician sits to the side of the stage making music, squeaks, whistling sounds, raspberry blasts from a horn, and other rude, as well as fun, sounds to help the girls and the audience enjoy their improvised play time.
For them, play means using found objects such as pasta boxes for rhythm instruments and pot and pans for drumming, which double later on as containers for picking up the debris of play (excellent lesson for children!). We even learned that straws can be used inventively to pick up beans! What? You never tried it before? Well, you’ve missed something.
And when it’s time for the imaginary friend to leave, the children and many of the adults as well, I suspect, felt a tug at their heart. I truly became invested in these two fast friends and wanted the best for both of them.
Lots of great, simple lessons learned so seemingly easily. It’s genius, really, the way this kind of theatre can genuinely touch hearts and minds and inspire playfulness of spirit. Please do experience it for yourself.
This is the 5th Anniversary Season for Arts on the Horizon, which was founded in 2009 and is thriving under the excellent leadership of Producing Artistic Director and Founder, Michelle Kozlak. I spoke pre-show with Ms. Kozlak, who has an impressive background in the theatre. But that’s a story for another time!
Cast and Crew Information: Julia Klavans (Friend), Malinda Kathleen Reese (Child), Cristian Linares (Musician), David Kilpatrick (Playwright), Matt Bassett (Director), Leigh-Ann Friedel (Remount Set Designer), and Lauren Pekel (Stage Manager).
Performance and ticket information: Performances of “Drumming with Dishes” run from October 6 through October 21. For specific dates, times and to purchase tickets, visit www.ArtsOnTheHorizon.org. The running time is about half an hour. Tickets are $9 for children and adults; children under 12 months of age admitted free of charge.