Dusseldorf This has never existed before at Düsseldorfer Schauspiel: Theater for children “from 2”. The viewers, being so young, then celebrated the premiere of “When Clouds Grow” vigorously.
The young drama celebrated two premieres with a single play. “When Clouds Grow”, newly written and brought to the studio stage by Emel Aydoğdu, addresses for the first time the very youngest. On the narrow program booklet with the pasted-in package of apple cores, it says laconically “from 2”. So a program for young children that is easy to handle, with sissies and the silent fox, where the dominant sound comes from the ranks of the audience?
Are you serious when you say that. The preparations occupied everyone involved for weeks. Stefan Fischer-Fels, the artistic director of the house, had to deal with complex logistics for young children. Right down to the invitation to adults and children, who are actually antitheatrical, to leave the room at will during the performance and come back again.
Playwright Kirstin Hess equipped herself and the ensemble with the necessary intellectual aesthetic language. Above all, the two actresses, Felicia Chin-Malenski and Yulia Yañez Schmidt, practiced preparing for surprises with each act on stage. It was probably only set designer Eva Lochner who enjoyed herself undisturbed. Their beautiful ideas also led to the most “Oh’s” and “Ah’s”. In fact, there was a lot for the little ones to wonder about, touch and comment on.
Two clouds come to earth and settle in a garden. There is a tall tent in the garden, with ruffles in all directions, wonderful to touch. The costumes of the two cloud women were even more beautiful, with lots of white tulle and sumptuous frills, but here shyness stopped the hands of the little children.
The short, very easy-to-understand plot is about the growth of plants, the colorfulness of nature and the like. Skyer also starts small, but then: “Cloudy wants to grow in a beneficial way”. A sentence to repeat as the textbook “Der Kleine Hey” gives the exercises at the drama school. Almost everyone knows “Barbara sat near the cliff” or “Under dark bank elms”. However, the four ingredients of plant growth were hits in the young play: “Sun, air, rain, earth”.
Again and again the two clouds Yulia and Felicia let the little ones repeat these four words, with rapidly growing excitement, even among the adults. Where they might like to look for the blue flower of romance, Emel Aydoğdu remembers his grandmother’s garden and brings the poppy into play. So not “cornflower blue” but “poppy red”.
The little preschoolers listened in amazement as the clouds told them the many different types of red, from “pink” to “tomato red” to “afterglow.” A big splash of color became imaginable, a beautiful colorful world. As the clouds parted in the sunset, long applause followed. The bright echo of children’s hands mingled with the rich clapping of adults. Everyone grabbed it when Stefan Fischer-Fels offered apple pieces to snack on in the foyer.
If you want to know more about the impact of theater on early childhood, you will find plenty of literature. Everyone agrees that the little ones can already process complex sensory impressions. Early childhood teacher Hartmut Kasten writes: “At birth, our brain has over 100 billion neurons, that’s as many nerve cells as there are stars in our Milky Way.”
For those in the know, there was a third premiere to celebrate with “When Clouds Grow”. Yulia Yañez Schmidt took on her first role as a new member of the ensemble in the Junges Schauspiel. She is also the first graduate from the inclusive acting studio in Wuppertal. With her prosthetic leg, she only had the opportunity to train there. Since 2019, the institution associated with the Wuppertal Opera House has shown that people with disabilities really belong on the professional stage. In the case of Yulia Yañez Schmidt, her disability was taken into account during her education, but she was also encouraged and challenged independently as a future actress. With the current premiere, three years of training have found their successful conclusion.