Small Voices Louder
Review by Maddie, Chloe with assistance by Cicely Binford
Small Voices Louder is a kids-only event happening at PIAF this year that, quite frankly, I’m pretty jealous I’ll never get to participate in. We sent two young ladies along to experience it for us, and after the show, Chloe (9) and Maddie (11) gave us a good debriefing about what they saw, how they felt, and what they thought about Alex Desebrock‘s special installation for kids.
Alex Desebrock, in the bright and cheery yellow that visually defines Small Voices Louder, descends the grand staircase at the State Theatre Centre and requests the kids remove their shoes before they begin. She sends the parents off with instructions to meet the kids out front in 25 minutes, and leads the expectant youngsters upstairs to start their journey. Here’s what Maddie and Chloe reported back afterwards.
The Small Voices Louder journey begins with the kids lying on their tummies for a bit of an introduction by Desebrock. Maddie and Chloe said there was a bit of mystery and excitement in this moment, because they couldn’t yet see what was behind the curtain in the room. But soon the curtain opened, and they found a roomful of eight tents to explore, each of which posed a simple question and had a microphone to record the kids’ answers.
Maddie and Chloe each set out on their own because they like different things. Some tents were bigger, allowing them to crawl inside, and some were smaller, like the “What is love?” tent, which they peered into through a hole and saw a ‘beating’ illustration of a heart. Maddie’s favourite tent had an alien who asked the question, “How would you describe Perth?” Inside the tent was a moon-shaped mattress, and she she said “it was fun explaining Perth to someone who’s never heard of it.” Chloe said it was “quite creative,” but her favourite tent (“What will the future be like?”) had “mirrors and lights around, and it was supposed to be a portal and you could say what you thought was going to happen in the future.”
Maddie said there was “thinking music” playing in the low-lit room. Chloe said that at first she was a bit nervous to say things into the mics, but that eventually she got used to it, and had the time to go back and revisit some of her favourite tents. She said, “I thought it was pretty cool because it made you think about some of the questions you might’ve not thought about before and it was cool answering them.”
Some of the questions, like “What would you change in the world?” were a little bit tougher than others, and the girls gave themselves time to think about their answers before speaking into the mics. One final, really big question came at the end of the session, when Desebrock asked them, “What does the world need to hear?” They then moved outside to the street corner, where two attendants were holding a big yellow banner that posed that very question in large block letters.
Desebrock handed the girls a megaphone and encouraged them to take a stand on a yellow pedestal to speak their minds to a small crowd of parents and adult folks that were gathered. After a bit of hesitation, the girls finally each made their statements, because, as Chloe said, “people probably actually need to hear it, and they might pass it along to other adults who can do something about it.” Maddie said “the world should hear happy things, not always bad,” and Chloe said “there should be less pollution and less rubbish left everywhere.”
The fact that Desebrock is interested in what kids have to say about these big questions had a big impact on the girls. “It made me feel like we’re just as important as adults,” Chloe said. “It made us feel more important than usual,” Maddie added. They both agreed that they would like to participate in more works like Small Voices Louder. “It was very good, I thought,” Chloe remarked, and Maddie said it was one of the best things she’s seen, though she said she probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much if there were more kids in the same session with her (it was just three of them).
Maddie and Chloe thoroughly enjoyed themselves, and remarked that they would probably continue to think about all those big questions for a long while afterwards. Their hands were stamped with a line drawing of a megaphone – a little reminder to speak up and make their small voices louder.
Small Voices Louder was presented at PIAF by Maybe ( ) Together and Performing Lines WA. To hear some clips recorded by the participants, visit the PIAF website here.