Don’t forget about you, by Jade Byrne

Posted on Friday 20 April

It’s the end of the Easter Holidays. We took what turns out to be a very wise decision, weather wise, to fill up the first week of the holidays with a trip to the Canaries but then we returned home to really depressing weather. I really hate the cold, so my girls and I wanted things to do indoors.

Then my facebook feed reminded me that The Hullabaloo had an extra show added at 12:45pm Thursday for Egg and Spoon. Yes! The Theatre. And Sponge is on at Jabberwocky Market too… what shall I do?!? So I got over the drama of having two brilliant kids shows on in Darlington at the same time, calmed down and realised we could do Egg and Spoon on Thursday and Sponge on the Friday! SORTED!

So we went to The Hullabaloo on Thursday and Jabberwocky Market on Friday, and we had a fantastic time. I love looking around the room at kids shows and seeing all their little faces, all their little reactions and all their big reactions too. There’s nothing more fulfilling to me, than to see kids completely engaged in and loving theatre.

I also look at the parents. All these brilliant parents. They’ve brought their bundles of joy, they’ve taken their time to bring them along and get them engaged in theatre. They’re sitting there grinning from ear to ear when their child laughs, they’re down with them on the floor taking in the whole experience and feeling so fulfilled at the joy in their kids’ eyes.

I love these parents. I love them for feeling it was important to take their kids to the theatre, I love them for making that choice of activity and for investing in the arts. I love them for inspiring their children, I love them just for being there and soaking it all up. They’re great people. They’re doing it for their kids.

I start to think to myself, do they take time out themselves to go to the theatre? Because I do find that kids shows always sell so much better than adult theatre events and if every one of these parents at each of these shows could take time for themselves to go to the theatre, then that would in turn build a bigger, stronger (way more fulfilled) theatre community in our town.

I also believe that it’s really important that we, as parents, take some time to escape being parents. Time to escape our responsibilities. Time to escape thinking about absolutely-sodding-everything before we think about ourselves.

There’s nothing I love more than forgetting all of my cares and woes because I’m completely engrossed in a theatre piece. I love that escapism. I love very real escapism. It’s there right in front of me, it’s happening live, it’s real, it’s not something on a plasma screen that I can pause while I get a drink, I don’t care about a drink, I’m watching a live piece, I’ve forgotten that I’m even thirsty.

I also find going to see theatre completely inspiring. It fills me with so much creativity. It really recharges my batteries. I don’t think it inspires just me, I think it’s inspiring to Bob the Mechanic too, I don’t know how but I’m very sure that it is. It has to be. What I’m saying is I don’t think it’s because I’m in the arts that I’m inspired, I think it opens up everyone’s minds.

I’m not talking about spending a fortune on seeing the latest West End tour of a brilliant musical. I love musicals, don’t get me wrong, I am a jazz hands kind of woman but that can be a super pricey night out and when you’ve got 2 or maybe like 5 kids you haven’t got that much spare cash left for yourself.

I’m talking about small scale theatre, the more intimate type, the best type. In Darlington we get this from Jabberwocky Market where you can see most shows for under £15 per ticket, some things you don’t even have to pay for in advance as there’s a Pay What You Decide bucket at the end. Or head through to the ARC in Stockton, or go all out and head to Newcastle, go to Alphabetti, Northern Stage or Live Theatre.

There are more theatres with small scale productions around us in Darlington than people might think. Washington Arts Centre, Gala Durham, The Fire Station Sunderland, Bishop Auckland Town Hall, Middlesbrough Theatre, The Witham Barnard Castle, The Georgian Theatre Royal Richmond and The Customs House South Shields to name a few. There will definitely be more that I have missed, I’ve got a 4 year old and an 8 year old so my head is in the shed a lot of the time.

My point is this, us parents are doing a superb job. We really are. Yes sometimes things are really hard and you feel like the worst parents in the world. We don’t always have the energy to deal with the 4 year old wanting Sofia the bloody First on for 10th time in the back room whilst trying to assist an 8 year old with learning their times table. Sometimes, we all feed them super noodles for tea.

But we’re there, at the theatre, enriching their lives, inspiring them, enjoying them whilst they’re enjoying the show and what we mustn’t forget is that we all deserve to treat ourselves to that experience too. Take time out. Have a breather. Go and experience grown up theatre, we deserve it.

Catch Jade’s show Pricks at Jabberwocky Market’s ALL NEW Weekend on Saturday 23 June in Darlington