An all-children cast creates a play for Richmondites

A troupe of child actors has created a play about a Chinese family, which they will perform for a Richmond audience.

Mustard Seed Children's Theatre has presented a play every year to the local community since it was created in 2000. This year, they are staging a play called Mum, Where are you?

Directors and playwrights usually have complete control over the scripts and plots, said artistic director Esther Ho, but Mustard Seed adopted a new approach two years ago. They invited the children to create the play together.

"Kids are full of imagination, so we help them unlock their creativity by allowing them to be storytellers themselves. It has been a challenging and fun journey," said Ho.

She said they have been putting a lot of effort into this play.

"Stories should flow like a river so that they move seamlessly from one part to the next and also draw the audience’s attention as deep as we can," said Ho.

Before immigrating to Canada 20 years ago, Ho worked for many years as a social worker in Hong Kong. To help children develop their skills has always been the central focus of her work.

Ho points out that theatre plays a vital role in enabling children to engage and interact with the world around them.

"Collaborating with kids to write story outlines and scripts can not only develop their communication skills, but also boost their confidence.

"Every time they came up with a script for the play, I encourage them to give me more ideas. These interactions help them stay motivated and find out what their strengths are," said Ho.

The play tells the story of two brothers setting off on a journey to find their mother after being separated for more than 30 years – it is set both in the past and in the future.

In 1994, poverty forces a Chinese family to abandon one of their children, who is later adopted by an American family. The two brothers are reunited again after being apart for 30 years, but it turned out that they don't share much in common as they grew up in different cultures.

"I have watched some documentaries tell the same type of story - a family had to abandon one of their kids for some reason, and then they reunited again.

"These stories are emotional and also reminding us to cherish people around us," said Ho, adding the play will be full of surprises.

Mum, Where Are You? will be shown on Oct. 26 at E&E Global Foundation, 8888 Odlin Cres. Tickets are $20 each. For more information, call 604-805-8833.

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