Making Theatre for Early Years

Thoughts from the Plenary on Theatre for the Early Years.

Saturday, 27nd May, was the Cradle of Creativity’s Focus Day on Theatre for the Early Years, held at the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town. Below you can see some quotes from the Plenary session which kick-started the day.

Pilar López, Teatro Paraíso, Spain

“[Early Years Children are…] the audience of the future.”

“The younger a spectator is when they have their first contact with the Performing Arts, the more often they will participate in events in the future.”

Can we see the small children as a strategic way to advance cultural literacy and to develop audiences?

“Boys and girls under the age of 6 have an immense capacity of absorbing information.”

“Mirror neurons [those neurons that activate when somebody observes the same action performed by someone else] make it possible for the smallest members of the audience to experience emotions of the Performance.”

“Not only is it important that the young ones have theatrical experiences but that these experiences must leave memorable emotions in their hearts and brains.”

“There can be no learning without emotion.”

“Children don’t go to the theatre alone, they are accompanied by adults […] Thanks to the children, adults […are exposed to] learning full of small wonders and discoveries. It can become an opportunity [for the adults] to become regular viewers of the Performing Arts. Activities in the sphere of Young Audiences can [in this way] have an echo effect.”

Karel Van Ransbeeck, Theater De Spiegel, Belgium

“Curiosity as an element of emotional intelligence is formed in the early years of life.”

“Art is not a matter of age, but a matter of curiosity.”

“[In a Performance…] the adults […] can let go of their caring responsibility, their problems, their daily routines. They become surprised, astonished and happy to feel this common connection [with their children].”

Henrik Bäckbro, Dockteatern Tittut, Sweden

“We were the first Swedish Theatre making shows for small children […] And, at the time, 40 years ago, this was quite radical.”

“A lot of people that actually thought we were ‘wasting’ Theatre on small kids.”

“There is something magical about shadows […] shadows engage kids and it really stimulates play […] We encourage them to make their shadows interact with our shadows […] It’s a fun way of playing together with the children, a way of letting them be part of the show with us.”

“You shouldn’t lower yourself to the child’s level, but you should raise to their level, to their capacity of empathy and imagination.”

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, documenting large conferences around the world, as well as conducting Impact Assessment studies for organisations in the UK and USA. His other work includes Arts-based Curriculum Development consultancy, as well as authoring other Evaluative Research projects.