The Plays for Parents series, presented by O Muse Arts, is a new, up-and-coming event in East Toronto. Upon arriving at Bebo Mia, the venue hosting the show, I was greeted by smiles of both parents and babies – by far the most welcoming performance space I have ever entered. O Muse Arts is a new Toronto based company, founded by Alysse Rich, aimed at developing a connection between new parents and the theatre community. Inspired by the “Movies for Mommies” program, Alysse started this company back in December whilst looking for an opportunity for parents to get out with their babies and experience theatre without having to worry about their children being disruptive. O Muse Arts hosts play readings on a monthly basis, and is successful in creating a comfortable, social gathering for both parents and babies.
The reading for this month was Dreamplace & The Blackbox Memoir by Barbara Lorraine Laing, a one woman show that uses poetry, storytelling, and monologues to explore memory and to depict the ups and downs of everyday life. The reading was very informal, which was effective in creating a relaxed environment for the audience. It was a safe space for parents to bring their children and enjoy a day out, yet still welcoming for those without children (such as myself). There were multiple opportunities for breaks, in case the babies began to fuss, and snacks were provided for both the parents and the babies along with toys, books, and blankets to keep the children entertained while the parents enjoyed the reading.
The Plays for Parents series lasts approximately an hour – short and sweet, yet still long enough to engage its audience and give the children ample opportunity to play. At the conclusion of the reading, the parents are invited to stay and chat with Alysse, the actors, or the other parents. Plays for Parents proves that just because you’re running around with your tot, it doesn’t mean you have to ditch the theatre altogether. O Muse Arts provides that happy medium for theatre loving parents alike.
Stay tuned for the next reading, Virginia Aldridge, Bsc, at Bebo Mia on May 12th. All information can be found at http://omuse.ca/plays-for-parents-series.