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Features Published 12 August 2014

Baby Love

Joakim Krojer, aged 7 months, and his mother, Duška Radosavljević, go in search of theatre for tiny people on this year's Fringe.
Duska Radosavljevic

I don’t care much about festivals really. I have other problems at the moment, like: the two teeth I’ve got coming out on top, trying to get myself to stand up on my feet and the fact that I really, really, really don’t like sleeping. But Mama wanted to go back to Edinburgh again, so she found us this baby-friendly place on AirBnB and some things to do in the festival, and off we went in the car.

I have travelled to a few places in my short life, but I have never seen anything like Edinburgh before. Everything is so big! The room where we are staying makes Mama and Papa look about the size of me in our flat in London. Then there is this huge green field we kept crossing every day. It’s called the Meadows. Mama ran off to a show as soon as we arrived and Papa and I sat on a picnic blanket watching some men play with balls of various sizes. I liked that.

And I discovered something else – this thing called grass which is green and a bit wet and you can tug at it, and rip it off too. I mean I’ve seen this in London too, but have never touched it before. There are also a lot of tents in Edinburgh and everybody is eating on the street. Papa was happy to see that they are selling genuine German bratwurst all around the place because he really misses this food from his home country. I only miss milk, which I can have anytime, but now I have to wait for Mama to come out of a show to have it. She was hoping to take me into a lot more shows with her but she says this year there aren’t many shows suitable for under 2 year olds. She found something called Baby Loves Disco which is on on Saturdays and Sundays so we went there to check it out.

Because it is their tenth birthday, they have laid out party food (baby rice crackers and snacks) and sweet drinks and balloons. You can go with a pram and they’ll put it away for you and give you a number. It is really dark in a disco, Mama and Papa say this one is the real thing – a place with a big drinks bar, a dance floor with a DJ and colourful moving lights. There are some snug seating areas and a few more small rooms to the side where older kids can have their face painted or get dressed up. But the music is so loud everyone has to shout to have a conversation. I guess it helps if you can dance, which I can’t, and Mama and Papa are not great fans of disco music so we just sat down and watched others dance for a while. Actually Mama and Papa watched, saying this looked like it was invented by the parents who didn’t want to let go of clubbing. Mama was disappointed there was no theatre in it at all. I was nursing my own pint of milk and the next thing I knew was I had fallen asleep. The loud music helped.

I woke up in the daylight when we were out on the street. Mama and Papa said that happens to grown ups sometimes too. Afterwards we took some photos including one of me on the Royal Mile. It rains a lot in Edinburgh – we all got wet a few times. One time even we were out getting wet in complete darkness. I discovered that Edinburgh is a place where people can stay out longer than usual. We were meant to go and see a family show taking place in the Botanical Gardens, but the rain got in the way. We did see some theatre in the end. It was a show called Duck, Death and the Tulip. Or Die Ente, Tod und Tulpe in German. It was a show based on a German storybook by the artist called Wolf Erlbruch. There were not many children in the audience and Papa was worried if this would be suitable for me, but Mama said: ‘It has a duck in it, he should like it’. I have two ducks I really like. They were both given to me by Lufthansa when we flew to Germany, one is fluffy and Papa puts it on his hand like a glove and makes up adventures with it which make me laugh. The other I play with in the bath.

At first I was a bit unsure because this too started in darkness, and darkness threatens to put me to sleep which I really, really don’t like. But then this music started which reminded me a bit of Baby Mozart which I do like. Out of the darkness came the Duck and the Tulip and a gray man with a coat, and I was really interested to see what they will do. I could watch them moving around in this big dark space with music for a long time but then they started to talk. I think they were talking about drinking tea and I was a bit bored. They were not like CBeebies because they were here in the same space with us, but they were not like Papa either when we play with Ente and he makes me laugh by poking me with his beak. Then one of them went to sleep. I didn’t like that bit very much. Mama and Papa joked later that the scariest bit for me in the show about death was when he went to sleep. I don’t find it funny.

Anyway, I usually start to sing when the danger of sleep sets in so Mams had to give me some milk so I don’t ‘steal the show’, whatever that means. I liked it when the Duck and Death went frolicking in a pond, and also when they danced. There was a bit at the end which was pretty to watch because there was this big white silky cloth moving through the space and carrying the Duck and the Tulip with it. Then all the people sitting around us started to clap their hands and I was very impressed – I had to watch them instead. This is something I’m learning at the moment but I can’t quite clap on demand and for such a long time. At least, Mama says, I didn’t do a fart this time. I did that at the end of another show we watched a few months ago. All in all, I liked this place called Edinburgh. I think Mama is hoping I liked it enough to want to come back again, but we’ll just have to see. Who knows what likes and fears I’ll be dealing with next year and whether there will be enough shows about them.

 

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Duska Radosavljevic

Duska Radosavljevic is a dramaturg, teacher and scholar. She is the author of Theatre-Making: Interplay Between Text and Performance in the 21st Century (2013) and editor of The Contemporary Ensemble: Interviews with Theatre-Makers (2013). Duska has also contributed to The Stage Newspaper since 1998 as well as a number of academic and online publications in English and in Serbian.

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