By Matthew Reason
'The younger viewers' offers important insights into how we will be able to higher help and increase kid's engagement with theatre. Its exploration of the way kids understand and reply to stay theatre performances is precious for lecturers, artists, researchers, scholars, coverage makers and different execs operating with theatre or with kids in different contexts and environments.
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Extra resources for The young audience : exploring and enhancing children's experiences of theatre
This is the impossible relation between adult and child. ] Children’s fiction sets up a world in which the adult comes first (author, maker, giver) and the child comes after (reader, product, receiver). (1984:1-2) This description could relate equally to theatre for children, where the adult comes first as author, maker, performer, programmer and the child comes after – as audience. The question Rose asks is what ‘adults, through literature, want or demand of the child’ (1984:137) and similarly with theatre for children the questions we should ask ourselves relate not just to what children want but also to what adults desire for and of children.
This perspective is present in another letter written to The Herald, where a teacher stresses her role in introducing pupils to ‘serious’ or ‘difficult’ works from the ‘cultural canon’ and observes that ‘If only those children whose parents take them to the theatre have access to centuries’ worth of drama then it WILL be an elitist art form. Ignorance will breed ignorance’ (The Herald, 2005:5). A similar sentiment is present in observations by Richard Eyre, artistic director of the National Theatre for ten years, who suggested in The Observer newspaper in 2007 that schools were failing in precisely this duty to instil in schoolchildren an appreciation of theatre, art and classical music: My fears are that [without arts education] you enlarge the divisions in society between those for whom the arts are a part of life and people who think it is impossibly obscure and incomprehensible...
What certainly is the case, however, is that theatre for children is never allowed to be simply for the sake of being. Instead it is always invested with various other qualities, purposes and utilitarian functions whereby the experiencing of theatre will somehow do good to the children concerned. In other words, the status of theatre for children is far from straightforward or comfortable. It is this status that this chapter will largely explore. Teenaged experiences of theatre Every year thousands of children are taken on organised visits to the theatre or watch performances by touring companies in their school hall.