Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Delightful Sunday - thanks to Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia

When I saw Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia is coming to town to perform the puppet show A Brown Bear, a Moon, and a Caterpiller: Treasured Stories by Eric Carle, I was all excited. Reason being I fell in love Eric Carle's books ever since I saw a finger puppet book of The Very Hungry Caterpillar! Since my little girl's term book is The Very Hungry Caterpillar, we finally decided to get our tickets on the 27th July. * I know this is late blogging about the performance since the last show was last Sunday,  29th July. We didn't get the tickets early as we had programmes on the first few weekends when they started performing*

So, I brought the girl to watch it on the last day of performance. The play was held at Genexis Theatre (Fusionopolis). Just to share, this theatre is not stroller friendly, the lifts only stop at level 3 while the theatre is located at level 6. Therefore, it is better not to bring any stroller / prams when you are bringing your little ones to any shows.

We arrived on the dot, the show was starting! We hurried to our seats. It started with introducing the 3 main characters, The Caterpillar, the Brown Bear and the Moon. 
 This is a 'no-shushing' show! Excited children were chatting, parents were talking to their kids, of course.  I was very captivated by the way the puppeteer moved the caterpillar, it was very animated. I thought it looks cute! 

The experience was not exactly the same as the Playtime performance at Esplanade (A series designed for audiences aged two to four that seeks to nurture their interest in performing arts) when I brought little one to watch The Noisy Zoo

This is because 
  1. we have a fixed sitting arrangement. Unlike in Playtime whereby we can move around as there is no fixed sitting arrangement. We were all sitting on the floor then and children could actually stand up and interact with the puppeteers if they wanted to.  
  2. we can't see the puppeteers in A Brown Bear, a Moon, and a Caterpillar. They wore black clothes, completed with black masks. With the clever usage of black lights, all the items in black could not be easily seen. This ensures that we focus and watch the characters of the play instead of the puppeteers. The Playtime performance, however, we get to see the puppeteers moving with their puppets. 
  3. the puppets are much bigger in size. Definitely! Otherwise, how to incorporate small puppets for show meant for a theatre of people?
  4. Lots and lots more props!

The performance followed exactly the story of the 3 books:-
The Very Hungry CaterpillarBrown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See?, and Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me.

The very Hungry Caterpillar
This is the book most parents are familiar with, I would say. Throughout the story, I can heard parents (including me) whispering to their kids, How many...(fruits)? What's that?. 

I love how this little caterpillar moves, how it flicks the fruits away after eating, how it become sick after eating too much junky food.

However some facts about caterpillar are not correct. Oops, I am looking at scientific point of view.
  1. Caterpillar doesn't just crawl out from the egg like a chicken. Most caterpillars actually eats its shell. My guess is the caterpillar actually eats its way out. Probably, Mermaid Theatre could improvise and make the caterpillar flick away the egg shell after eating just like how it did for the first 5 fruits.
  2. When the caterpillar change into chrysalis.(Cocoon/ pupa) The split begins from the bottom near the "head" and, within minutes, the dead larval skin will worked upwards. Not the other way round. I hadn't thought of a solution yet on how to make this possible for the performance. 
Anyway, it's not really that important. We are introducing basic concepts to children. Don't make it too complicated.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see?
This series of puppets were the latest collection in Mermaid Theatre. The book itself introduces different animals and colours. So , parents started asking, what's that (animal)? What colour... ?

Actually when I read the book, I felt it's quite a boring book. Throughout the story, it's repetitive phrases "..., what do you see?"  " I see ... looking at me". Repetition is good for toddlers who just started to converse. They pick up fast with repetition. I couldn't think of any good activities to do besides matching words to colours, counting animals. As this is a 3D play, everything is animated just like the real animals. The horse gallops. The frog jumps. Dog chases cat. So I start asking my girl to watch their movement and what they are doing? I think this is something you can't do with a 2D puppet.

Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me
This story was totally new to us. We only got the library book just yesterday and I think a lot of parents seemed to be not familiar with this either. Most of the parents were watching silently to the story. And this story is the one I enjoyed most because the moon really disappears after 3 flips! How to do that with only 1 board in sight?!? I wondered. 

Well, I'm glad there's Talkback (QnA) Session. The puppeteers explained how they could remain 'invisible' while handling their puppets. And children were encouraged to ask question about the performance or to request for their favourite animal to be shown again. We were allowed only 3 questions. 
Children requested for the Brown Bear to be display again. The puppeteer showed how she moved it.
And it does look heavy.

The second request was how did the moon disappear? Yeah! Exactly what I wanted to know and the secret is flipping and the use of an additional black prop! I think it's brilliant ! 

The last question was how to make the cocoon appear? This involves rolling up the painting of the cocoon which was attached to a tree prop and rolling it down slowing and swinging the caterpillar at the same time. 

I'm glad my girl enjoyed the show. She was laughing at parts of the performance. Particularly the first 2 stories. And my girl's favourite character? It's the Green Frog from Brown Bear.

Next to watch is the Magic Ocean ( 1st Aug to 5th Aug) by Esplanade's Playtime if I could get the tickets, that is.


  1. Both of my children love EC's books and they would be thrilled to watch the show! Glad to hear you had a great time with your daughter. :-)

  2. Yes, Do catch them if they perform in USA!


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