Do you remember the world(s) you created in your childhood bedroom? I had a play kitchen that was my own kitchen in my own house. I made my mother knock before entering my “house” for a while. During my parent’s divorce, I once arranged my blankets into a big nest, like Big Bird had on Sesame Street.
Then there was the period when I categorized my stuffed animals according to species. Why did no one notice I might be a little “too organized” for a child? Truth is parents are busy and distracted, even when their children are hurting. Watching Interrupting Vanessa I cringed a little when Vanessa mimics her mom being too busy to indulge her daughter’s imaginative play. I cringed a lot when Vanessa’s mom calls her treasures, “a pile of junk.” I resolved immediately to lift my head when my children are speaking to me. I will endeavor not to make a fuss over the piles of Legos that cover the floor in my son’s room or the heaps of doll clothes on my daughter’s floor.
Vanessa’s room lets us into her mind. Her dad is there, just hanging out, reading the paper, and telling jokes, just as he used to do before he died a year ago. Since that time, Vanessa has withdrawn into the safety of her room and her imagination. Inside her room is everything she needs: costumes and props she uses to embellish her fanciful stories, experiments and inventions, and even a forbidden chocolate cupcake.
When Vanessa’s mom invites Timmy Fibbins over for a playdate Vanessa’s comfortable existence is set on edge. Timmy is the awkward kid you remember from your own school days. Today we might wonder if he is on the autism spectrum.
I have shared many Childsplay performances with my children. One of the things I like best is that productions are multi-layered. Young children always enjoy the zany antics and colorful costumes of the characters on stage. Depending on age and maturity, some will notice deeper themes. Childsplay productions are always thought provoking for the adults in the audience. Make sure to grab a copy Questions for the Ride Home at the end of the show. This is a great way to help everyone explore the show on a deeper level.
Interrupting Vanessa is a short play; running time is less than one hour. Make no mistake there is a lot packed into this show. The talented cast conveys themes of loss, friendship, and being different. As with all productions at Childsplay, there is a short Q&A at the end. Fortunately, for us, the Prop Master and the Director were in the audience providing extra insight into all the components of a successful show. My 11 year old really liked Interrupting Vanessa. He made a beeline for the stage at the end when the audience is welcome up to meet the cast. I looked up to see that he had pulled one of his own treasures out of his pocket to show the cast: a Lego mini-figure. The next time I peer into his room, I will wonder what sort of wondrous world he is imagining in there.
BY: Family2Family Blogger, Julie