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October 11, 2012

Everything is Discovery – Ken MacKenzie on Alligator Pie

Ken MacKenzie

Of the five creators in the room four of us are new parents and the fifth is so in touch with his inner child that he may as well be authoring self-help books. Four children in the last three years. It seems to me that this is the perfect time for the group of us to be involved in the process of creating a show for children. At the beginning of nearly every rehearsal, somebody talks about how sleepless they are or how early their respective child got up or went to bed. To be in the room, though, you’d never know how bleary eyed we are. There’s a relentlessly creative energy in the room every single day.

Of course we take a lot of inspiration from the poetry of Dennis Lee but I think there’s something more to what we bring to the room every day.

When I go home after work, I’m greeted by my six-month-old daughter and I’m reminded of just how ridiculous and endlessly new the world is. She reacts with astonishment and wonder and maybe even a little fear at the shadows we make on the wall. She’s never seen that before. Also, she’s just figured out that she has a tongue and that it does things. It can do things! Amazing. Everything is discovery for her.

So I try to take inspiration from that and to bring that sense of discovery and limitless possibility into the rehearsal room. I think we all do to some extent. I think channeling our kids is a great place to access the poetry from and, in turn, to offer the performance from as well. The hope, I think, is to relate the vast experience of childhood and remind everyone of the endless new.

Ken MacKenzie in rehearsal for Alligator Pie

We also eat a lot of cookies and don’t really clean up after ourselves (which is a cross that our stage managers bear with great bravery). It barely feels like work to gather so much imagination and to play, but I catch myself sometimes needing to be reminded of how important it is, and how it would be great if I could return some of that sense of excitement and astonishment about something so simple as light coming through the leaves, to my daughter now, and have it stay with her as she becomes whoever she’s going to be.

Photos by Cylla von Tiedemann and Nathan Kelly