Monday, September 14, 2009

Performing Arts appreciation

Last night we had a disappointing experience.

Way back in May I was driving and listening to the radio, as I usually do. Carbon heard an advertisement for the broadway show "Wicked" coming to Seattle in September, and he immediately started clamoring for tickets to go see it.

I was excited at the idea of him wanting to see the show, and even though the cheapest tickets were $27 each, I got three tickets. My husband and I read the book, and I thought I had enough preparation discussions with Carbon about the story and the show.

Yesterday, after a crazy 2 hour drive and some getting lost in downtown Seattle, we finally ran through the doors just before the show started and found our seats. The show was great, but Carbon was not ready for it. He couldn't sit still, and the seats were too close for wiggling without disturbing the rows in front and behind us. He wanted something to drink, and couldn't understand why he had to wait for intermission. My husband and I worked really hard to keep him quiet and interested and polite through the first Act, but that sucks the enjoyment out of the experience for all involved.

At intermission I decided we should just leave, and Carbon agreed that was what he wanted to do. My husband was all set to just lay into Carbon about how he needs to learn to sit still and behave, but I tried to steer us away from that. He's young, and I worry about making too big a deal out of this so that he ends up hating theater or having bad memories of it. I made a tactical miscalculation, choosing a long adult show for his first live theater.

On our drive home, we all talked about, all got upset again (taking turns being upset), and all discussed what had made it hard to enjoy the show. Carbon said he hadn't understood what the show would be. He also said that it was hard to be rushed and have to run to get there and then not get anything to drink and that he had thought we were mean to not buy him a soda. We explained that, although movies let you take a soda in, live theaters don't allow food or drink in the theater seats.

These were discussions we should have had before we went. And I should have shown Carbon some clips of the show from Youtube beforehand, to prepare him and show him what to expect. Lesson learned, and now we are going to have some more intentional performing arts appreciation worked into our homeschooling. I'm going to get the whole family tickets to the Seattle Children's Theater production of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, and I'm debating some of the classical tots daytime performances the Seattle Symphony does. Before any performance, we will prepare with books and clips and discussions.

I'm still bummed about Wicked, but it's not the end of the arts for us.


  1. Oh, that's too bad! Yes, I would have been bummed about walking out on Wicked too, as I've been wanting to see that one.

    We get several of the TheatreWorks traveling shows here and we have enjoyed them - they are short (about an hour) and very kid-friendly. We've seen If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, Charlotte's Web, Seussical, Junie B. Jones and several others, and they're a great introduction to the "rules" of live theater. I hope you guys enjoy If You Give a Mouse, and I wish we lived in an area with classical kids daytime shows!

  2. If you guys decide to do the symphony thing, let me know...Sylvia would LOVE to go do that.

    Don't forget that there is the Olympia Family Theater, right here in town, that does great shows for children. At 3 Sylvia has seen a number of live theater productions, but just the ones geared for kiddos: they can squirm and talk and laugh out loud and clap and squeal, because they're intended to do just that. Wicked, on the other hand, had audience members paying upward of $100 for seats...and expecting an immersive, uninterrupted, $100 experience.

    We should make a date for "Charlotte's Web":

  3. Glad to know my child isn't the only one not ready for live (and expensive) performances. We stick with free and kid friendly.

    I so dislike the kind of disaapointment you described. I hope you are feeling better now.