“Journey Around My Bedroom”, a live-streaming show for children–review by Andrea Santo Felcone

I’ll admit I was intrigued about this show right from the title: “Journey Around My Bedroom.” Afterall, I’m sure I wasn’t the only child to spend a great deal of time in my childhood bedroom, dreaming up any number of adventures. (My sister and I were always trying not to capsize off my bed and fall into the “hot lava” of my 1970s red shag carpet.) This topic, of course, is very timely for today’s youth, who have been staying at home (many since last March) due to the pandemic. If today’s children haven’t already seen their bedrooms in a new light—one lit by their imaginations—along comes this interactive puppet show to enlighten them.

Journey Around My Bedroom

Xavier de Maistre and Xavi on a Magical Journey. (c) New Ohio Theatre

In “Journey Around My Bedroom”, a nine-year old girl, Xavi, has been stranded in her bedroom since last March. When Xavi has trouble sleeping, she decides to open up a book her Mother left for her: “A Journey Around My Bedroom” by Xavier de Maistre. As Xavi opens the book, the Great Explorer, Xavier de Maistre, floats out of its pages in his hot air balloon over Paris and into Xavi’s room in Manhattan. (When he plants a flag into a pile of clothes on Xavi’s floor, claiming her bedroom, “this strange land”, as his own… I laughed out loud.) He has invented “room-travel”. He shows Xavi what he means by this as they travel around her bedroom, and beyond, unlocking great wonders of imagination and relying on each other as they go.

One of the most fascinating parts for me, was that the story for this show is based on a real figure: the real Xavier de Maistre. He was an aristocrat and army officer who wrote Voyage Autour de ma Chambre (A Journey around My Room, first published in French in 1794) and the sequel, Expedition Nocturne Autour de ma Chambre (A Nocturnal Expedition around My Room, 1825). His impetus for writing, he’d been under house-arrest for 42 days, having participated in a duel. (I know, you could do 42 days standing on your head at this point, but this amount of time gave Xavier the creative fuel to write.) In these books, he journeys around his room in his imagination—coining the term “room-travel”—using the various objects in his room as travel destinations. What developed with these books, was a call to see familiar sights with new eyes.

Journey Around My Bedroom

Xavier and Xavi, “Journey Around My Bedroom”. (c) New Ohio Theatre

I’m not sure how the show’s writer, Dianne Nora, found Xavier de Maistre and his books to use as the inspiration for this show, but I’m very glad she did. Her script is beautifully written and there is a good deal of humor in the writing of this production that made it all the more charming. For example, Xavier has a narrator, and when Xavi complains she does not, he says, in his exaggerated “French” accent: “It’s an advanced device. I wouldn’t recommend it to unseasoned explorers.” To which she replies: “I’ve been exploring since March!” But, his final retort: “I’ve been exploring since 1790.” (That effectively ends the discussion.) I found myself laughing at the puppeteer’s exaggerated French accent, as well as the dialogue.

“Journey Around My Bedroom” is told through puppets, borrowing techniques of the Victorian toy theatre and combining them with contemporary-style puppetry. The show is performed across the Zoom platform. The day I watched there were a few technical difficulties, but the performers handled these difficulties well and they weren’t overly-intrusive. The audience can watch passively, or participate. It was fun to watch the children in the audience help Xavi and Xavier in their room explorations. One young audience member, wearing a pirate hat, was elated when his mic was opened up, excitedly exclaiming, “I’m unmuted! I’m unmuted!” (His excitement felt as if he hadn’t spoken since last March.) Many of the children were wearing their pajamas in the middle of the day, playing along with the show’s “host” across Zoom–delightful to watch. (Most of the time the actors go unseen as they are the puppeteers, but sometimes they are part of the show.) I would say the show is geared more toward pre-school and elementary school children as its main audience, but it was also engaging and witty enough for parents to enjoy alongside their children.

But, what of the puppets? The puppets are realistically-detailed paper creations attached to sticks. I could easily see an animated version of this show as a next step in the creative process. There are also beautiful original songs included, (songs by Hyeyoung Kim). After the show, audience members can stay to meet the puppeteers, ask questions, and explore behind-the-scenes. (I would recommend staying after for this experience. It was interesting to see how the puppeteers—in different locations—were able to make the show so cohesive.)

Overall, “Journey Around My Bedroom” is a whimsical experience. A charming show that makes our time at home all the more imaginative and playfully reminds us not to take for granted the beauty in our everyday surroundings.

To view the show:

A donation grants access to an on-demand viewing link which will be available starting January 11 and ending on Feb 11.

Tickets for live-streaming shows are Pay-What-You-Will (suggested $25.00 for up to two viewers). The video will be available on-demand and entitles viewers to the link from Jan. 11 – Feb. 11: https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/store/34708/alldonations/35894/dept/1499.

Run time is approximately 35 minutes.

Note: The show is best viewed on a laptop or desktop (smartphones, tablets, and Chromebooks don’t allow for all the fun things the show provides).

Presented by New Ohio Theatre for the Young Minds

Journey Around My Bedroom

(c) New Ohio Theatre

Written by Dianne Nora

Music by Hyeyoung Kim

Directed by Jaclyn Biskup

Production Stage Manager: Nat Kelley DiMario

Scenic and Puppet Design: Myra G. Reavis

Assistant Scenic & Puppet Design: Ana Maria Aburto

Sound Design: Tae Jong Park

Guitar: Sangyoon Ham

Performed by Laura Kay (Mom/Narrator), Starr Kirkland (“Host”/Xavier de Maistre), and Ashley Kristeen Vega (Xavi)

Inspired by Xavier de Maistre

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