Why White continues to enchant pre-schoolers
Catherine Wheels’ delicate and fun kids' show still going strong
Five years and almost 1000 performances after it opened in 2010, Catherine Wheels' White is entertaining a whole new generation of little ones. Aimed at ages 2–4, the show invites us into a colourless world of white clothes, bird boxes, tents and even spectacles (all beautifully designed by Shona Reppe).
Then, as the simple story unfolds, listen for squeals and exclamations from the tiny audience, as bursts of colour start to appear around the stage – much to the delight of one performer and the consternation of his colour-hating friend.
But it’s not just the set that children love about White, it’s seeing elements of their own world mirrored before them: brushing teeth, throwing things in the bin or eating breakfast.
‘Parents often say that after the show, children point out colours on their way home,’ says writer and performer, Andy Manley. ‘Or say “put it in the bin”, which is lovely - it's great to be part of a child's development and the questions or play that ensues after the show.
‘And it can subtly change the relationship between parent/guardian and child. We often hear "I never thought he or she would be so engrossed", which is lovely for the child but equally lovely for the carer to reassess the child’s capabilities.’