It’s final rehearsal day for the 13th Children’s Theatre School in Shiroka Luka in the Rhodope Mountains of Bulgaria, an event which LLP Group sponsors.
After two weeks of drama, mask-making, mime, yoga, martial arts, film-making and music workshops it’s time to put the whole lot together for tomorrow’s show. There’s a notional structure, based around an African and a Bulgarian story, separately told, but authenticity here gives way to spectacle and fun and there are a number of incongruous contributions from schools and orphanages in the region that must be fitted into the programme.
This morning it’s the general rehearsal, and in the spirit of all hands to the plough I’m taking part myself, playing some Hungarian folk music by Bartok on my oboe at the beginning of the African tale (seems authentic to me!). I used to think that it should only be about the children, that only the children should make the costumes and design the backdrops, but I’ve come to see that the children enjoy and gain much from collaborating not only with each other, but also with the artists, and even, dare I say it, with the sponsors. It’s a miraculous form of therapy that works in both directions.
If you’re anywhere near Shiroka Luka in the Rhodope Mountains, then come. It’s only four hours drive from Sofia. The show starts at 2pm tomorrow afternoon.