Publications Launch at the Cradle of Creativity

“We need storytelling about theatre, not just in theatre” - Dr Octavian Saiu.

To celebrate the written work of Practitioners, Academics and Organisations, the Cradle of Creativity dedicated an evening reception on Sunday, 21st May, 2017, to recent publications from within the field of Theatre for Young Audiences. There were numerous magazines, plays, handbooks and academic journals on display for those in attendance to peruse throughout the evening.

Launching the event, Yvette Hardie (President of ASSITEJ International and Director of ASSITEJ South Africa), commented that “Important texts are being written in different parts of the world and we want to find ways to share those texts. […] It’s really about spreading those ideas as widely as we possibly can.”

Authors, Editors and other representatives were then offered the chance to speak about their works, and encourage others to pick up their own copies, either in person or through online ordering.

Kim Peter Kovac, for instance, spoke of New Visions/New Voices: 25 years/25 plays. Kovac described the book, co-edited by Deirdre Kelly Lavrakas, as “in a way, a history of Theatre for Young Audiences […] a documentation of the growth of the field as a whole”.

Vicky Ireland then introduced her work, co-edited with Paul Harman, that is entitled 50 Best Plays for Young Audiences: Theatre-Making for Children and Young People in England: 1965-2015. “It was very important to trace our history”, Ireland commented, insisting upon the need to document events in order to keep them in memory of the TYA community.

Meanwhile, delegates from ASSITEJ Spain introduced both Spanish play texts, and translations of Spanish works available to order online.

Marisa Gimenéz Cacho then spoke of Mexican Theatre Magazine, Paso de Gato. This magazine, well distributed in Mexico and Spanish speaking countries, contains a good amount of content on Theatre for Young Audiences and would be an invaluable resource to Hispanophone Practitioners. Going on to describe the Paso de Gato publishing house’s other work, she impressed delegates with their affordable Playtext series which sells for about 1USD a copy.

Next, Yvette Hardie referred to her collaboration with French Canadian playwright, Suzanne Lebeau. Having met in Cameroon, Hardie felt Lebeau’s The Ogreling spoke to South African culture and storytelling traditions, subsequently commissioning Sindiwe Magona to translate the text into isiXhosa. Magona commented that, “When I first got to read the play, I so identified with it, with the material, it amazed me that someone from elsewhere had written it. […] I was just startled that I had not written it and she had”. She described the play’s themes as exploring “the realisation that, actually, there is no Other […] We have the same emotions the world over. We have the same fears. We are subject to the same irritations, the same elation, the same depression.” Hardie also gave some practical advice to those considering publishing saying that, as “we felt that it was important that children could use it in the classroom”, they had insisted that the edition be ring bound, display clear translations between English and isiXhosa, and offer educational notes (necessary to accommodate all Learners, including those who may never have seen a Play before).

Manon van de Water, on behalf of ITYARN (International Theatre for Young Audiences Research Network), introduced various publications including Theatre for Early Years: Research in Performing Arts for Children from Birth to Three (Edited by Prof Dr Wolfgang Schneider), TYA, Culture, Society: International Essays on Theatre for Young Audiences (Edited by Manon van de Water) and the Youth Theatre Journal (a publication of the American Alliance for Theatre & Education). When speaking of the importance of academics journals, she commented that, “I want to bridge the gap between […] theory and practice. […] We have to learn how to learn from each other.”

Finally, our attention turned to magazines, with Prof Dr Wolfgang Schneider presenting the German publication, Theater der Zeit, alongside Paul Tischler from its Publishing House. They spoke of IXYPSILONZETT, a magazine specifically for Children’s and Young People’s Theatre, which gets sent to all Theater der Zeit subscribers in an attempt to put Theatre for Young Audiences on the agenda of all Theatre Makers nationally.

Meanwhile, Dr Octavian Saiu presented Critical Stages/Scènes Critiques, the journal of the International Association of Theatre Critics, whilst praising the Publications event as a whole, stressing that “we need storytelling about theatre, not just in theatre”.

This was followed by a presentation by UNIMA, the International Puppetry Association, who were displaying the Puppetry International magazine, published by their USA chapter. They spoke also of their new initiative to publish an online international magazine that compiles translated articles from around the world.

Last but not least, Yvette Hardie and Marisa Gimenéz Cacho took to the floor once again to celebrate the ASSITEJ Magazine, share their initiatives to make the magazine truly international in focus, as well as their strategies for using the publication as an invitation for people to get involved in various activities and the association as a whole.

Overall, this was a mammoth event but one that demonstrated the diversity and richness of publishing within the Theatre for Young Audiences field. Now to get reading!

Chris Blois-Brooke (Founder & Director)
An Applied Theatre Practitioner with experience in international Drama Education, Community Theatre and Theatre for Development, Chris’ ongoing research interests centre around the documentation of Community Performance practice for the purposes of monitoring & evaluation, advocacy and training. Recent projects include facilitating participatory documentation of Community Circus, Dance, Theatre and Storytelling practice in Ethiopia, South Africa and Zambia, as well as Impact Assessment work for NGOs in the UK and USA. His other work includes Arts-based Curriculum Development consultancy, as well as authoring other evaluative research papers.