Theatre is often regarded as a very effective medium in which to portray the challenges and triumphs of a community. Through stories, such as Marmalade Gumdrops, the importance of certain areas of life can be addressed, and by using both physical and visual representations, a community can both create and visualise how challenges can be triumphed. Throughout history, communities have banded together to create what is now known as community theatre. By using people from the community to create a play for the community, messages and contexts are clear to see.
In the case of Marmalade Gumdrops, the play was not created by our community, but it was created for it. Having the importance of keeping your imagination laid out in a simplistic form such as in a child’s bedroom, people of all ages are able to bond and connect with it. Marmalade Gumdrops, is a play that carries a simple message, in a simple way. Using an open space with minimal props of bright primary colours, and having characters such as desks or a lamps, creates a known atmosphere; a comfortable place that the viewers all relate to. Using simple and sparse props, audiences can see the message that has been created for them.
Showing the relationships that children create between themselves and the sanctuaries they live in, a bedroom, creates a vulnerable, malleable feel to the atmosphere as an audience watches this play. In the community that Mount Isa has, keeping imagination alive is a key issue, because of the way things work. With parents working long hours at the mines, and with not much to do, both kids and adults have to learn to use what we have. Marmalade Gumdrops uses realistic settings mixed with very unrealistic, extraordinary circumstances and events to broaden and awaken the minds of those who watch it.
The relationship between a child and his books, is a rather important one to include within this play. The days of children getting lost in a good book are gone, but by having this connection to his bookcase (envisioning knowledge), this child has now created a world of his own. By having a chair that takes this child’s anger away, and a lamp that isn’t as bright as you would think, the audience can see that the child in the play is learning to teach with stories, and learning to control feelings, all by learning to imagine and let go.
In community theatre, language is a key point when considering a story. Every word and every context given to the audience in Marmalade Gumdrops is easily understood by a child, and yet the subtext of some actions, such as the lamp blowing bubbles every time a new idea was formed, would be something that the adults would notice more than the children. The idea that “Imagination is like a marmalade gumdrop; once you’ve tasted it, you’ll never settle for just plain. “is such a simple and imaginative thing, and yet it is something that communities, particularly adults, forget.
Whether it be because it’s just how things work, or because of influences, people forget what it is to be a kid, or just what it is to have an imagination. As the play progresses, audiences are subconsciously prompted to use their own imagination. As each new prop emerges or as a new scenario starts, the viewers start seeing things that could happen, or things that they themselves would do with what is shown on the stage. They start to want to bring everything to life the way that the characters do in the play.
When the child, Walter, picks up an object out of the box, the entire cast on stage (the desk, the bed, the lamp etc) all lean in, and are excited to see what happens next. This in turn gets the viewers excited, and creates a longing to be imaginative. This in itself proves the fact that community theatre is an effective way to not only view, but create, triumphs. Every time Clair (the lamp) blows “thought” bubbles, and Winthrop (the chair) takes of his hat, audiences are awaiting a new adventure, and a new taste of something long forgotten.
For the children in the audience, a sense of fun and excitement bubbles up. This play is a way of showing the children that having an imagination is ok. Having fun is not only ok, but that to have fun, you don’t even need much. With today’s society full of “I need” and “I want” when it comes to new fashions and toys, the natural response to imagination has become “that’s stupid”. Marmalade Gumdrops not only shows, but proves, that simple things in life count, and that things are never the same once you know how to imagine.
By creating this play, Marmalade Gumdrops, Carol Lauck has shown the true meaning of imagination. The telling of so many stories all within one big story is such an effective way of grasping an audience’s attention. This is exactly what community theatre is all about. Using characterisation and relatable scenes, Carol has created an ideal way to show this community a message. It has shown us a challenge, and it has taught us how to beat it.