Ha Young Hwang: Artist-Adolescent Collaboration as a Reciprocal Process – through Artists’ Perspectives

Ha Young Hwang's Paper from Day One of the ITYARN Conference 2019

A Paper by Ha Young Hwang, Korea National University of Arts (South Korea)
Presented at the Conference of the International Theatre for Young Audiences Research Network (ITYARN), part of the ASSITEJ Artistic Gathering 2019 in Kristiansand, Norway. You can see the Roundtable that followed this paper at the following link: Roundtable on Collaboration with Youth in TYA.

Abstract: Professional Artists’ collaborations with young people, particularly with adolescents, have recently gained artistic attention in the field of Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA) in Korea. Adolescent-Artist Exploration (Cheongsonyeon Yesulga Tamsaekjeon in Korean), an ongoing series of practice by TYA Research Centre at National Theatre Company of Korea, and, also, Youths, Creating Our/Their Seeing (Cheongsonyeon, Bomeul Jitda in Korean), an ongoing New TYA Play Development project run by Korea National University of Arts, are some of the examples. These examples show a glimpse of increasing interest in this area within different institutional and cultural contexts in Korea. 

While Artist-adolescent collaborations have varied aims and objectives depending on the context, they currently seem to be framed and analysed through certain lenses. Some are framed as a practice of Arts Education with aims such as developing adolescents’ potential through the medium of Theatre. Some are seen to be an Artists’ encounter with young people, which generates sources and motivations for their new works for young audiences. Some appear to be an attempt to explore the world of ‘one another’, which grounds a foundation for mutual understanding and, also, personal, aesthetic, and artistic growth of both parties. Also, these lenses do not rule out one another since they often co-exist within the multiple layers of the collaborations. While these have entailed interesting experiments on the dynamic relationship between Artists and adolescents, both of whom are simultaneously creators and receivers, different directions embedded in one project have also provoked debates, especially when those directions contradict one another. 

Situated within my ongoing queries on Artist-adolescent collaborations in the context of TYA, this paper is to explore whether and, if so, how different directions embedded in the Artist-adolescent collaborations can be pursued and developed beyond contradiction towards a reciprocal process. This can lead to envisaging a possibility of re-locating Artist-adolescent collaboration in TYA within a larger context of contemporary theatre practice and discourse. Diverse ways of interaction between Theatre-makers and audience and, also, the implication of the sensibility of young audiences to contemporary Theatre-making will be reviewed. 

As a way of examination, I attempt to bring in Artists’ perspectives. This is to illustrate how Artists reflect on their experience of working with young people, how they articulate the challenges and the dilemmas that they have confronted in the process and, furthermore, how they envision a way forward in relation to the seemingly contrasting directions ingrained in the project. It will also shed light on the artistic inspirations that they have found themselves through a very human encounter with adolescents.