Performance notes

The purpose of The Happiness Box is to engage its young audience with an orchestra. The performance should be fun, interactive and accessible. 

The orchestra firstly plays The Happiness Box Overture. The conductor may then wish to ask the children to identify the sections of the orchestra. There is the option of playing the motifs of the three best friends, and therefore re-enforcing the instruments who symbolise them: Wobbley: tuba, either solo or with bassoons; Martin: contrabass and muted trumpets, and Winston: oboe and glockenspiel. Various other key themes could also be played, with instructions on how children can join in when they hear the themes. Then the narrator is invite to the stage (or floor) and the story begins.

The narrator's role is crucial, as the storyteller, but also, importantly, as the conduit between the audience and the orchestra.

The role of the narrator should be played by an actor comfortable with pantomime theatre. While the narrator should have a lectern with the text, positioned next to the conductor, in sections where s/he is not speaking, s/he should roam around the stage, miming the action and becoming each character as the story demands (for e.g., the narrator becomes Winston the lizard, scurrying in front of the orchestra as the orchestra plays the 'scurrying' music; as the orchestra plays the 'cheeky Martin the Monkey' theme, the narrator mimes being a cheeky chimp, etc.). 

When an instrument has a solo, the narrator should point out that instrument to the children. Whenever possible, the narrator should be drawing attention to the different sounds of the orchestra. This is mostly written into the narrator's text, for e.g. 'What's that sound? Can you hear it? Yes, it's Slinky, the wicked snake of the jungle...' Improvisations around this theme of listening and identifying specific sounds are welcomed.

There are sections where the orchestra members hiss and shout. The more the orchestra commits to this, the greater the children's enjoyment. Specific instrumentalists are called upon to do a little acting, for e.g., the principal 'cellist plays Dreamy Bill, the oldest tortoise in the jungle - the instrument snores, and it is helpful if 'cellist can then pretend to be asleep when the narrator mimes knocking on his/her shell (instrument body). Other such instances can be found in the score.

There are many sections where the audience is called upon to specifically interact with the narrator and orchestra, and these are included in the score and narrator's text. Some examples can be found at: Children's participation.