M1 Peer Pleasure Festival 2020: Riley’s Rain (Review)
Short but entertaining performance for kids from Republic Polytechnic.
With the ever-present restrictions on social gatherings and dissuasion from staying out, it can be hard to stay engaged and stimulated during the COVID-19 period. And especially for kids, this can be especially daunting, and would probably get increasingly restless at home.
So it’s always welcome when a new theatre production comes online, ready to keep the kids entertained for a spell and re-invigorate their imaginations even while staying home. Playing as part of this year’s M1 Peer Pleasure Youth Theatre Festival, Republic Polytechnic (RP) students have come together to produce Riley’s Rain, an online theatre production aimed at younger children.
First staged live by RP’s Diploma in Arts and Theatre Management (DATM) students last year for children with special needs, Riley’s Rain is a whimsical, 15-minute video that sees the DATM students and RP’s Operation Theatre Interest Group telling the story of a wayward raindrop who needs to find her way back up into the clouds to join a giant storm.
Devised and created by Gloria Tan and Samantha Bounaparte, Riley’s Rain is a short but delightful production that combines live action performance alongside puppetry to get its narrative across. Dressed in colourful costumes and performed against a lushly designed set, we meet anthropomorphic characters such as a bird, a dragonfly, a tiger, and of course, Riley the raindrop.
There’s plenty of energy the young performers exude in the show, reminding us of a Saturday morning variety show as they navigate the forest, and occasionally break the fourth wall to get kids to use their home activity kits (Riley’s Rain Box, specially designed for audiences on the autism spectrum as well as those with sensory sensitivities) to participate in the performance with simple activities, such as blowing a bird whistle or creating a ‘gust of wind’ with a fan. One also enjoyed the well-crafted puppet set, and the adorable way the story was told across both mediums.
With the strict social distancing guidelines in place, it can’t have been easy to record this performance, with students from RP’s Diploma in Media Production and Design students assisting in the video editing process. Ending off with a jaunty, upbeat original song, Riley’s Rain left us with a feeling of innocent joy, and how the digital medium continues to surprise us with its potential for engagement, and ability to reach out to audiences of all backgrounds.
Riley’s Rain is available to watch on YouTube till 30th September 2020. For more information, visit their website here
The M1 Peer Pleasure Youth Theatre Festival 2020 runs from 4th to 16th August 2020. More information available here