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LILLIPUT LEARNERS CONCERT (article first published : 2005-12-6)

How do you get 50 three to six-year olds not only to understand but communicate passionately their concern for concepts like extinction, biodiversity and conservation?

Answer. Involve them in the magic of theatre, teaching them self-discipline, teamwork, self esteem and communication at the same time.

Last Friday, the Howard College Theatre on the Durban Campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal was filled with the children and staff of Lilliput Learners, the University's pre-school, entertaining families and friends in their annual "concert".

This was no standard nativity play or Christmas story - inappropriate for a rainbow collection of little people who come from a wide range of cultures and beliefs.

Instead, teacher Tatum Robinson had used (with permission from the composer) a series of simple songs about animals, birds, plants and insects and created a story which told how two children from the future (2050) arrive in a time machine, cleverly simulated with sound and flashing lights, to meet two children of the present, who show them the rich variety of life on earth in 2005.

Marvelling at the hippos, fish, crocodiles, giraffe, lizards, bees, fruit, and plants which are extinct in their world, the time travellers and their audience shared the joy of the clever costumes and gay set as the story was played out to a backing tape compiled with help from the University Music Department and particularly visitors from Sweden.

Particularly enchanting were a group of "apes" who showed off the gymnastic skills they are acquiring in extra-mural gym classes.

The "big schools" to which the three narrators and the other graduates will go in the New Year are going to benefit from youngsters who will give anyone who litters or otherwise doesn't take care of the environment a hard time.

Tatum Robinson is keen for her script to be used by other schools, and Lilliput Learners principal Angie Robinson will happily share information on how to make the costumes. The show was video-taped. Contact them on jati@lantic.net Lylie Musgrave




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