A Play

We went to see Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe which was first produced at the Opera Comique in London in 1882. It was my child’s first play. The children’s theatre company sang, danced, and acted in such a way that maintained my toddler’s attention for over two hours. On the drive home, we talked about our favorite things in the play. My favorite part was the music by Sir Arthur Sullivan. In particular, was a song entitled, “When I Went to the Bar” sung by Lord Chancellor who is one of the main characters. He is having a conversation with himself and the chorus repeats “said I to myself- said I.”

My toddler said the people were her favorite part of the play. The actors and actresses had beautiful singing voices, colorful costumes, and had interesting words and movements. The fairies in Iolanthe wore colorful wings that were similar to the ones my daughter wore to the play

When we were done saying our favorite things, it got quiet in the back seat. At first I thought she fell asleep since it was past her nap time. Then I heard it. A question that Sir Lord Google was unable to help me with at that moment. “Mommy, why do we call it a play?” Hmm. Why is a live, stage performance referred to as a play?     

Maybe it is because the places a play can take you… Said I to myself – said I! Like a roller coaster ride, a play has twists and turns. A play can take you to exciting locations through staging, costume, and story without ever leaving your seat. When we play, we use our imagination and can transport ourselves similarly.

Maybe it is because the audience attending the play is experiencing a collective leisure activity... Said I to myself – said I! Doing something with others can bring us happiness. We need each other. Play is enjoyable when we have others around to join in the fun. It does not have to be engaged play with another person, but parallel play is where we can sit beside and enjoy the other person’s company.

Maybe it is because the creative expression required to produce a play … Said I to myself – said I! Dressing up in costumes, pretending to be something you are not, trying out different roles, and using language in experimental ways are things children do when they play. A live stage production is not all that different than watching a young child play.

Whatever the reason we call it a “play”, a really good one does feel the same as play. There is nothing better than getting lost in play! (Said I to myself – said I)



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