Wednesday, 20 April 2011

La Sagouine at the Segal Centre

The famous one-woman play of Acadian folklore is a tour-de-force for Viola Léger who plays the eponymous old crone. Eighty-years old and with more than 1000 performances behind her, Léger actually is la sagouine - it doesn't feel like a performance. The humour is gentle and the atmosphere wistful; this is not a challenging work but casts light on a culture and people who aren't often seen.

We went on a Thursday night, when the audience was a mixture of the young and old with little in-between; Martine and I were about the only 40-somethings there. Maybe it's different on a Saturday night when kids don't need help with homework and the dishes can wait 'til next morning.

In praise of Julia Donaldson. Oh and Spike Milligan too.

Bed-time stories are over for another night and in a few short years they'll be over for good when Philou starts reading for himself. Like his brothers before him, Philou follows the adventures of "The Gruffalo", "The Smartest Giant in Town" and other fantastic creatures. I must have read some of these stories a hundred times, yet many of them are still a pleasure every night. But in my experience most books for young children are very poorly written; imaginative storylines and beautiful illustrations are rightly emphasized but often at the expense of the musicality and tonality of the writing, yet these are vital if the parent is to make the story come alive. There's so much flat and dull writing around that I really appreciate all of the books by Julia Donaldson which are quite wonderful to read aloud.

"His eyes are orange, his tongue is black;
He has purple prickles all over his back"

Oh and Spike Milligan too. "On the Ning Nang Nong" is quite the perfect poem to read to three-year-olds, who have it off-by-heart after two nights.