When was the first time you ever caught an immersive theatre performance? For audiences of You Can Reach The Sky, it was probably their first time, before they’ve even hit the tender age of one.
You Can Reach The Sky was conceptualised and created by Ellison Tan and Myra Loke. Both artists had already seen how theatre can be aimed ay young children, having been involved in the Esplanade’s Playtime! series of theatre shows aimed at children before, but realized that few companies had produced shows for audiences even younger than that locally. Six months, a devising phase and a couple of test shows later, one of Singapore’s very first immersive theatrical experiences aimed specifically at pre-walking babies was born.
Babies aren’t exactly known for having a lengthy attention span, and are certainly different even from young children in that it would be difficult for them to follow a sustained narrative. As such, You Can Reach The Sky focuses instead on providing its tiny audience members with a well-curated, fully sensory experience in its 20 minute or so duration. Taking place on a soft, mattress-like theatre in the round, audiences are given free reign to crawl around and explore the space, allowing them to truly become a part of the unique theatrical experience and interacting with the various soft set pieces and props arranged onstage.
Simple in concept yet requiring plenty of thought to get the details just right, performers then present the babies with a rather abstract, surreal performance in six segments, as they pick out objects such as lamps to even bubble wrap (an audience favourite) and ‘float’ them around, flying them above and in front of the audience’s very eyes, or lie down on the stage and perform energetic, almost otherworldly movements. Combined with a vivacious soundtrack that goes from dreamy to funky and colourful lights that help animate the space, one can practically imagine being transported to another world where strange creatures roam and the landscape ebbs and flows to accommodate one’s curiosity.
This lends itself to the idea that it has become an interactive playground, and the babies were constantly visually, aurally and kinaesthetically engaged. While we can’t speak for them, the audience certainly seemed to be enjoying themselves as they played with the space and the other babies. Even parents got into the mood and began using some of the props (made with baby-friendly material) to stimulate their children, and the smiles on the entire family’s faces were undeniable.
You Can Reach The Sky showcases how even a show aimed at babies can still be one that pushes for aesthetic beauty, strong choreography and full audience engagement. We can’t wait to see how they continue to develop the piece and bring it to an even greater audience in future, and show Singapore how you’re never ever too young to get involved with the arts.
Photo Credit: Foxing Film and Photography
Performance attended 17/12/17, 1.30pm.
You Can Reach The Sky plays at ArtGround, Goodman Arts Centre Block J on 20th Dec (1.30pm and 3pm), 21st Dec (1.30pm and 3pm), 22nd Dec (1.30pm and 3pm) and 23rd Dec (1.30pm). Although currently fully booked, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org to be on the waiting list! You Can Reach The Sky is still growing and continues to change with each iteration, and the team hopes to go mobile and bring the show to community centres, and possibly infant care centres in future.