Once again, Jeffrey’s History Face is on full display:

Last week we hit the Utah Shakespeare Festival.  Brian’s parents were along for the ride, and generously entertained little ones while big kids and grownups went to see plays.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream went over well, even if we did have to change venues during intermission owing to a rainstorm.  I had prepped the kids with the picture-book version of the story, and Jeff even polished off the Magic Tree House chapter-book version.

Jeff kept guffawing — guffawing, I say! — during any kind of comic moment in the play, regardless of what other audience members were doing.  It was kind of charming.

Puck has now entered into Jeff’s regular fantasy play, although he keeps forgetting his name.

“Mom, what is the name of that guy who says “How now spirit, whither wander you?”

You can’t blame him for latching onto what, for an 8-year-old boy, is admittedly the most dynamic character.  And in the production we saw, Puck ran around in furry shorts, sans shirt.  Kind of the ideal job for most 8-year-olds I know.

Eleanor had a different experience.  She was interested in the play, but her body was too small to keep the fold-down seats in the theater from flipping up.  So she was rather wiggly during both Midsummer and The Music Man.

For the record, Jeffrey was kind of baffled by The Music Man.  “Who was the bad guy in that play?!?  I think it was the mayor, because he was always trying to stop the band.”

But what may have really captured the children’s imaginations was the gift shop.  Eleanor insisted on multiple portraits with silly hats:

Even Jeffrey got in on the action with this one.

Heavens to the Bard, but that boy is skinny.  You’ll notice, however, how his eyes are pointed elsewhere.  That’s because of all the items available for purchase at the festival gift shop, the #1 thing Jeffrey wanted was one of the for-display-only Ren Faire-ish metal swords hanging on a rack behind the sales counter.

Oh, the swords.  There were swords in Midsummer, although there was no fight scene, but it mattered not.  Jeffrey wanted to know all about how actors use swords.

It was his favorite question during the Backstage Tour, which we took the morning after Midsummer.

“Any questions?” asked our guide, who bore a striking resemblance to Orlando Bloom.

“Where do the actors make their swords?” cried Jeffrey.

The guide replied that the swords were purchased from a props house.  But ten minutes later . . .

“Any questions?”

“Where do the actors make their swords?”

I had to grab Jeff’s arm to shush him during the other Q&A sessions.  Instead, he whispered his question in my ear: “Wheeere do the actors make their swooooords?

Luckily, my mother-in-law made the generous offer to take Jeffrey to the props seminar later that week, during which Jeff could learn all about the swords, shields, helmets, et. al. to his heart’s content. She also bought him a book about stage combat, which Jeffrey now insists be part of his daily routine.

ME: Jeffrey, you can’t watch T.V.  You haven’t made your bed or finished your reading.

JEFF: And I haven’t practiced my stage combat, either!

He was upset when we left for home (“I didn’t get to say goodbye to the Globe Theater!” he cried) and is already asking if we can come back next year.  (We’ll see.  Next year’s plays are The Merry Wives of Windsor and Titus Andronicus.  Eeesh.)

Now that we’re back home, the children are in the habit of putting on “plays” of their own.  Brian and I were treated to an epic Western called “Eleanor the Sheriff,” which was accompanied by Jeffrey singing about whatever was happening “on stage.”

More recently, Jeff & Ella have said that they are going to put on a “love play” where “everybody dies at the end.”  I sweareth it true, I fain have read Romeo & Juliet to these bodkins.  Really.

Art & Science Weekend

This month the Utah Museum of Fine Art has free admission on Saturdays as part of its “Art & Science” program for families.  Each weekend features different art activities and science experiments based on different elementals (fire, air, water, earth).  Naturally, I had to take advantage.

Here’s the big reason why: the UMFA has a “real live mummy,” as Jeffrey puts it.

He was actually kind of appalled that the mummy wasn’t in a Natural History Museum, like the mummies in Pittsburgh were.  “Call President Obama!” he insisted.  “The mummy should go in the natural history museum!”  When I told him that the President of the U.S. wasn’t in charge of such things, he was doubly appalled.  What was the point of being President when you couldn’t decide where mummies should go?

Eleanor brought along a sketchbook and her colored pencils.  This African mask was the only thing she took time to draw.  (I can’t find her notebook today, or else I’d have shown the drawing, too.)  The exhibit label said the mask was used as part of girls’ coming-of-age ceremonies.  Oh, and that big foreheads and neck folds were considered attractive by that culture.

We went on a treasure hunt to find art pieces related to the element “water,” like this ancient Indian carving of a river goddess:

Both kids insisted on getting their picture taken with the samurai armor.  Jeffrey and I watched The Seven Samurai a few weeks ago, and he’s still jazzed about it.

My favorite part was the time we spent in the art room.  The kids were encouraged to make watercolor paintings of cloud landscapes, and all the volunteer docents were out in full force.  Therefore, even though there were lots of families there, the whole thing was organized and fun.

Eleanor spent a long time carefully crafting a cloud landscape.  Jeffrey painted two landscapes in record time, and as he finished each one, he would hold it up and declare, “there it is!  MY MASTERPIECE!”

There’s one more free weekend at the museum this month, so if you have the means, I highly recommend going!  It was a blast.