I was up with the birds yesterday morning in order to pedal off to the station and catch a train for York. At short notice I had been asked to play for Claytime at the Theatre Royal. I love places that are visibly rich in history and York is right up there with the best. The theatre was opened in 1744, having been built on the site of the mediaeval St Leonard's Hospital, some of which was incorporated into what was then called The New Theatre. The atmosphere on the stage is awesome, in the true sense of the word and that was where the show took place. The curtains were drawn and the stage itself became the theatre.
Claytime, by Indefinite Articles, is one of my all time favourite children's shows, truly interactive and perfect for its target audience of 3 - 6 year olds. I have only played for it on two previous occasions, the most recent being in Kings Lynn early last year but a quick talk-through before the show brought it all back to me. What I find hardest is remembering I'm supposed to be working. Steve and Sally are such accomplished performers that the temptation just to sit back and enjoy the show is almost too much to resist.
The show is in three parts, the first being negotiations between the two characters over the possession of clay and the things that can be done with it. The characters reflect the ages and concerns of their audience and the children become very involved in boundaries, transgressions, repercussions and moral justice.
In the second part, characters and a story are elicited from the children with Sally modelling the protagonists as Steve works the audience. This is then told using the models. Cue the 'end' and bows. But then each child, and usually parents/teachers too, is given a lump of clay to play with. The resulting models are gathered together and photographed with the resulting image going on the theatre or school's website for parents/teachers to download.