What is it about?

The rollercoaster adventures of parenting three kids, dealing with disability and mental health - and discussing disability discrimination and how to tackle it.

Monday, 10 November 2008


Last week was Shakespeare Festival, the long awaited week in which the children perform their play on stage at the local theatre.

Possum did phenomenally well. Last year, he couldn't sit through his brother's performance without whining. What a difference a year makes! He stood on stage and loved every minute of it. And he watched the other classes' plays with great interest (especially the sword fighting scenes). He didn't want the festival to end.

Beaver was a bit more of a mixed bag. He knew his lines perfectly, but on the night, he got nervous and swapped them around (thankfully he wasn't the only kid in his class who got his lines muddled a bit). But the biggest problem was that he developed some sort of stage vertigo. On the day of the general rehearsal, he could not walk onto the stage for fear of falling off. I don't know where this came from, he had no such issues last year. Maybe it was some sort of performance anxiety. I took him to the stage a few times to run around on it. At home, I got him to stand on the coffee table and proclaim his lines. He stood on a stool on one leg. Yet as soon as he got on the stage, he got wobbly. Oddly enough it only happened while he stood still, not while he was moving on the stage. He kept bending down as if he was about to fall. His teacher solved some of the problem by getting him to hold hands with the children next to him, and in the dance scene, he was placed to the back of the stage. Most people in the audience noticed nothing in particular. They just assumed that's the way he stands. Lots of people commented on how well he did. Maybe they were truthful, or maybe they were just being polite. But I knew better, and I found it painful to watch. I was praying the whole time that he would manage to stay upright and not fall down. Phew. It was hard. But, he got through it, and seemed to have enjoyed it. He did not want to come off the stage, or leave the theatre. And already wants to know which play his class will do next year. We have enrolled him into drama classes on Saturday mornings, in the hope that it will increase his confidence (and he does love drama, that boy).

So, here are some photo's my Father-in-Law took. There is no video or flash photography allowed in the theatre (although both were taken by a professional photographer for us to buy later in the year) so these shots were taken without a flash and are a bit grainy. Still, they give you an idea.

Possum (aka Puck) in A Midsummer Nights' Dream

Beaver (prologue and Count Paris) in Romeo and Juliet


Katie said...

I get more wobbly than usual when I'm performing. I sometimes give readings of my short stories. It's difficult to explain what happens, a combination of nerves and adrenalin, I think. I stiffen and one of my legs in particular starts shaking, at the knee.

(I have spastic CP and am a wobbly walker, usually use a stick in unfamiliar locations but that's quite a recent addition, when I was a kid I wobbled unaided in quite a similar way to Beaver, I'm guessing.)

One weird thing is that my speech seems to become less CP-affected - I usually have a lisp, not so much when I'm reading. I have wondered if I am concentrating so much on making sure my speech is clear that the rest of my body goes to town a bit!

I usually have a lectern to hang onto so no one else notices. I wonder if they can come up with an equivalent in drama class? With me, I don't get nervous anymore because I'm pretty experienced and it still happens. I can sometimes settle it with a pre-match glass of wine, but I'd not recommend that for Beaver!

Heike said...

Now Kaite,this is interesting. Hubby and i were wondering if the adrenaline has an effect on spasticity - a google search did not fully answer my question, but it seems possible. Adrenaline increases tremors, as we all know, we start shaking, and can influence tone. I think you're on to something here! I guess we will persevere and by getting on stage more and more, he will be less nervous, and things will get better. Beaver speaks quite nasally, but on stage, his voice is crystal clear. He only started speaking after he mastered independent walking (about a month after we packed his Kaye walker away). I have always said he can't do speech and gross motor at the same time! It is so interesting to hear your similar reactions! Thanks for posting those comments. ANd by the way, I love your blog, very individual. We live in Sydney now, but Beaver was born in Gloucester Road, Brighton (just down from the mosaic junction with Sydney Street).

Katie said...

Oh wow, I go past there several times a week... a very cool place to be born!

My gross motor control is generally pretty good (for a spaz!) but it definitely all falls apart if something more interesting has captured my attention... an occupationally hazard, I reckon...