Capturing the twinkle twinkles of childhood can sometimes seem a low priority in the grand scheme of parenting. But often, it’s that magical element of play, introduced at the right moment, that can elevate a sad or grumpy mood or stop a brewing tantrum, even encourage a penchant for creativity or a lifelong love of the arts. But we can forget all of that with the stress of parenting, working, living, and the many many other things that occupy our mental space. We grown ups can–and do–forget how to play.
I recall a moment in one of my favourite films, Finding Neverland. J.M. Barrie, played by the most wonderful Johnny Depp, sits in the theatre among the patrons watching the premiere of his latest play. They are displeased. And he reminds them that it is a play. It’s a profound moment in its simplicity: stop overthinking and overexpecting and just enjoy what’s in front of you.
The connection? Well, sometimes, I need to remind myself to play with my children or to let them play and not worry so much. Among the many many words of advice I received when I became a mother was the very simple “enjoy your children” from a dear friend. This week, I made the connection a literal one.
Enter Acting Bugs, run by actress Samantha Seager. Originally from Manchester, Sam has been a Wanstead local for many years now; she started Acting Bugs (for preschoolers) and Diddy Bugs (more sensory-based and for under threes) in 2012.
Sam has acted for grown-ups and for kids, most notably on Coronation Street and CBeebies. She created the classes to encourage active storytelling in family life: a worthy cause. During the class, parents and children are meant to interact, given the dramatic prompts by Sam. These include verbal prompts to imitate animals, or a runner bean, or play pat-a-cake. These also include physical prompts like puppets or a giant canopy / magic carpet. So there’s a lot of hopping, jumping, whisker-twitching, body hugging–playing, essentially, and acting, as Sam might say, like “silly sausages” for the better part of an hour. If you’re going to be reserved about it and not play along, you might miss the whole point. And all of the fun.
As this was a one-off for us, I asked a parent who’s been coming for a while. For Bella’s mum, Acting Bugs is helping her daughter to have confidence in herself, something we all wish for our children when entering the world. Though the class uses some props, Sam mainly relies on the parents and children to use their voices and bodies to express ideas. This focus on the body and all it can do is perfect for confidence-building in children. My outgoing three-year old engaged with the activities instantly and my very shy two-year old was happy to do a little here and there. I thought the Spring Chicken song and dance were really fun. Apparently, I was caught doing that in the garden this afternoon.
The class takes place in the hall of Wanstead’s beautiful Christ Church, which has a charming garden. The hall is roomy (lots of space to run around and play) and has loads of stimulating natural light. An amazing venue for an afternoon of imaginative fun.
In addition to the classes, which are offered in Redbridge as well as nearby in North and East London, Sam offers inspiring and imaginative nursery and library sessions and story-based parties for children aged 2-7.
Mumsnet Local – Redbridge is happy to provide further information about Acting Bugs. Click on the link or find it under Things To Do > Classes > Preschool Classes > Drama.