Mama Mayhem

Welcome to the jungle, Mama

By Ivy Jensen

DEAR primary school teachers of the world.

How do you do it?

Seriously.

How do you actually get a bunch of excitable children to actually listen for five minutes, let alone learn, in six hours?

I always thought being a high school teacher would be a much tougher gig — dealing with all those moody, angsty teens with attitudes to match — but now I’m not so sure.

While the younger ones might not give you as much crap, they are soooooooo noisy.

As you all know, I am assistant director for the junior production of The Jungle Book so I am trying to teach a group of 25 tweens how to sing, dance and act their way through a 30-minute musical.

Sounds easy in theory, and it might be, if you have a regular class of ‘normal’ children.

But these kids are as far from ‘normal’ as you can get. In a good way of course.

But get a group of theatrical loving drama queens together in one room and you’re in for a wild ride.

The noise would rival a pride of roaring lions or a herd of stomping elephants, which we actually have in the show.

With my trusty director Lesley Summers abandoning me to go to a wedding in Sydney, it was up to me and production manager Tamara Cadd to control the troops last week.

And seeing as I had resorted to bribery the week before (a chocolate frog for the most behaved child), I naively believed our troubles were over.

Now don’t get me wrong, these kids are super talented and can do some impressive stuff I could only dream of.

But they can be hard work. Because it’s a jungle out there. Literally.

You’ve got the meerkats whose heads only pop up if it’s their turn and the deer who are on constant alert, ready to flee from the hungry lions at any moment.

Then you’ve got the kids with the attention span of a squirrel; their bodies twitching and their eyes wildly darting around the room looking for nuts, which we also have plenty of.

There are a few giraffes who love to stick their necks out and into other people’s business and a couple of sneaky snakes who try to slide into the role of director every now and then.

Let’s not forget about the curious big-eared elephants who have no trouble trampling over the trees in their desperate need to have their 50 questions answered.

And finally you have the cheeky monkeys who just love jumping around and making a hell of a racket.

So guess who Tam and I are among all this chaos?

The lion tamers of course — firmly but carefully controlling and instructing the fierce and unpredictable to do what we want.

So in two months’ time, they can put on a spectacular show that audiences are willing to pay money for.