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A Tearful Goodbye at DIWC’s “The House at Pooh Corner”

A Tearful Goodbye at DIWC’s “The House at Pooh Corner”

· 11 min. read

Do It With Class Young People’s Theatre Inc. premiered its new performance, “The House at Pooh Corner: A New Musical!” on March 20th, 2024, running until March 23rd, 2024.

The story begins with an adult Christopher Robin visiting his old boarding school. The kids have heard of Christopher because of his father’s famous stories, and want to hear all about his childhood adventures. After some hesitation, claiming the stories belonged to his father and weren’t his, Christopher began sharing some of them.

The Riddel Centre in Regina, Saskatchewan

Winnie was up to his usual antics once again. After visiting his dear friend Rabbit to chat about something not particularly important, he attempted to crawl through Rabbit’s small entranceway and proceeded to get stuck in the doorway because of his rather large belly.

This brought out every creature and critter from the Hundred Acre Woods to help the silly ol’ bear. One by one they emerged – Eeyore, Piglet, Tigger, a young Christopher Robin, and eventually Kanga and Roo.

As each character arrived, they gave a small quip about the hilarity of the situation. But when Kanga and Roo arrived, something different happened. Kanga spoke first, expressing disbelief at what she was seeing, but she spoke in a thick Australian accent – which makes sense, really. Kangaroos are Australian, not British, and should use their ethnic colloquialisms. But, for a moment, the play paused, and every character looked at Kanga and Roo in amazement, disbelief, and a tinge of horror.

What!?” they exclaimed. Nothing Kanga said made any sense to them.

Young Christopher Robin turned around and looked across the stage, at his older self recounting the story. The comparison between the two was stark. Young Christopher Robin was full of life and vigor, while Adult Christopher Robin was sad and quiet. The two lock eyes and the younger Christopher Robin corrects his senior:

“That’s not right.”

Then the play resumes and the moment is gone. Kanga and Roo laugh and go back to speaking British English, and the hilarious problem of Winnie the Pooh being stuck in a door frame resumes.

But in the corner, watching from a distance remains Adult Christopher Robin, sadly knowing all too well what happens next.

This scene stuck with me. Never before have I seen a character break the fifth wall like that. Adult Christopher Robin changed the story for Kanga and Roo to be Australian because as he grew up, he realized that’s what they should be, not what they were. Was Young Christopher Robin in the right to correct him?

As the play continues, it follows two timelines. One is with Adult Christopher Robin in the boarding school, and the other is Young Christopher Robin, unbeknownst spending his final days with his imaginary friends.

Later in the play, as the story progresses, Young Christopher Robin finds out he’ll be going to boarding school, and he realizes he will be leaving the Hundred Acre Woods forever. He asks his senior what it will be like and Adult Christopher Robin holds him and says, “You’ll learn the cry less.”

The sign to Eeyore's house

This is when it hammers in what has happened to Adult Christopher Robin. The rumble and tumble of Winnie is gone, the silliness of Tigger is gone, the anxiety of Piglet is gone, the innocence of Roo is gone and the love of Kanga is gone. All that remains is the dull grey of Eeyore.

“How long will we be friends for?” Winnie asks Younger Christopher Robin. “One hundred years”, Christopher replies. “Then I will be friends with you for one-hundred-and-one,” Winnie promises.

But for Adult Christopher Robin, he tells people that he had no friends growing up. He was lonely. He just spent him with himself, some toys, and his imagination. Boarding school would end his time with those toys, and put a stop to that imagination.

You’ll learn to cry less really means you’ll learn to feel less.

When Younger Christopher Robin goes to the Hundred Acre Woods to tell his friends the bad news, they inform him that it’s actually great news. They are happy he’s leaving. They’re better off without him. They don’t need him. All the characters, all the animals, dance around and tell Christopher Robin that they are better off without him.

This is what Christopher Robin needs to hear. He needs to know he is not needed. His friends will be fine. He isn’t important.

But then Roo speaks up, and tears down his facade. She’ll miss Christopher Robin. Christopher Robin is important to her. He is needed. Things won’t be the same anymore.

As the scene unfolds, eventually Adult Christopher Robin joins the conversation. He takes Pooh’s hand and together they sit on the edge of the stage. Beside Pooh is the Younger Christopher Robin, his hand reached too, showing the audience that Pooh is the conduit between the two Christopher Robins.

The two talk, and the sad reality sits in. By letting the memory of Winnie the Pooh die, he killed his childhood self too. Logic trumped imagination. Kanga and Roo are Australian, even if that’s not right. If Winnie the Pooh is a sad, old toy, then Christopher Robin is a sad, old man too.

Winnie the Pooh as a toy

This isn’t a children’s story, even if it has silly bears, wise owls, goofy tiggers, and helpful rabbits. It’s a story about the end of childhood, performed by people who are on the cusp of such a pinnacle themselves. The audience knows that every actor on that stage is on the same journey as Christopher Robin, and we all know that bit by bit, their silliness, playfulness, laughter, and joy will be chipped away until nothing remains… nothing but sad, grey Eeyore. We’ve seen it happen to ourselves too, and to those we love. These children's actors don’t understand the gravity of what they are saying, or maybe, unfortunately, they do.

“You told me not to be in a hurry to grow up!” Young Christopher Robin yells at his nanny. “Well, now it’s time,” she replies. It’s time for a tearful goodbye.

Adult Christopher Robin ends the play by saying that while he didn’t expect such emotions from revisiting his old school, he is happy to see his friends once again. But it didn’t feel like a happy ending. That part of Christopher Robin is gone, and Winnie is just a toy, alone, waiting for the next child to come and play with him.

This is the third or fourth performance I’ve gone to with Do It With Class Young People’s Theatre Inc., and while the others have been silly, this one hit home. It pulled no punches. It left the audience in tears. I told some of the tireless volunteers after that it should have come with some kind of warning. I didn’t plan to spend the rest of the day crying.

Flowers at Eeyore's house

Do It With Class is performed by students ages eight to eighteen, and they practice for two months, twice a week, for four to five hours a day. A lot of work goes into every performance, and this was the best I’ve ever attended. They’re always looking for new actors, and several of their actors have gone on to work for major motion pictures. It’s an excellent way to keep your kids creative, and active and retain their imagination, at least for a little longer.

If you are unable to see the play before it concludes for the season, they put out several incredible performances every year, and you can follow them on their website, on Facebook, Instagram and Tikok for future updates. Thank you to Do It With Class for the invitation to see the performance.

Now excuse me, I have a box of toys in my basement that I need to check on.

A Tearful Goodbye at DIWC's The House at Pooh CornerA Tearful Goodbye at DIWC's The House at Pooh Corner

Categories: Canada, Regina, Saskatchewan

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