What?: I’m always excited when a venue I’m already a fan of announces a new under-5s programme and indie cinema Rich Mix has been one of my favourite places to watch movies since I lived around the corner from it many moons ago. The centre used to run baby sensory sessions for 0-2s but I never got round to taking Babu and now she’s too old and the class has been discontinued anyway, so I was adamant we wouldn’t miss out on this new and mysterious-sounding Sunday workshop.
So what exactly is storycraft? The art of crafting stories? An amateur dramatics society for toddlers? Nope, storycraft is simply a story followed by a craft, and unfortunately its simplicity is what killed it for us. Aimed at ages 2-5, the session followed the format of a 45-minute, Bangladesh-based original story told using songs and masks, followed by a cutting and sticking activity that continued the theme. Babu and her mate spent the best part of the class chasing each other around the room, which the well-meaning but slightly patronising woman from Rich Mix attributed to them being too young, but honestly I think they were just bored.
The story was cute and original, but it did go on a bit and the storyteller – although really lovely – wasn’t quite as engaging as she could have been, given how young and potentially very easily distracted her audience was. I also really hate table-based cutting and sticking because Babu doesn’t understand scissors and instead of patiently trying to figure them out she just gets really angry and starts trying to stab stuff instead. It was all just a little bit basic and not interactive enough for a toddler. I wanted more theatre, more imagination, more immersion, but instead it all felt a bit lacklustre.
Where and When?: Storycraft sessions take place on occasional Sundays at 10.30am, although the next two events in November and December are sold out. Rich Mix is located at 35-47 Bethnal Green Road and is a three-minute walk from Shoreditch High Street Overground Station.
Best Bits: The masks/animal faces were beautiful and the storyteller was so nice I feel bad that I kind of hated it.
Worst Bits: Absolutely fine for over-5s but not great for under-4s. I was pretty bored and I like to think I have a slightly longer attention span than a toddler.
Facilities: Buggy parking, baby changing, step-free access, cafe with high chairs.
Would We Come Back?: This was the pilot session and I’d be interested to see how the class develops over the next few months.
Bab tries on story masks post-Storycraft for Under-5s at Rich Mix, Shoreditch.