Reactions to Research on Trauma & Theatre for Young Audiences

What can Theatre do in the face of real-life trauma?

Keep scrolling down for more about the papers at this session, which was presented at the conference of the International Theatre for Young Audiences Research Network (ITYARN) that took place in Kristiansand (Norway) as part of the ASSITEJ Artistic Gathering 2019.

Confronting the Present (Re) Presenting Childhood: A Reading of Trauma in Ahmed Yerima’s Pari by Eunice Uwadinma-Idemudia, Redeemer’s University (Nigeria) 

The spate of terrorism currently plaguing the global village is not without its traumatic manifestations on children and young people. In Nigeria for instance, the attack from the Boko Haram insurgency has left hundreds of children and innocent people (children and young adults) traumatised. Families affected have suffered one psychological problem or the other while in exile. The 2014 attack, and subsequent adoption of over two hundred young innocent and unwilling girls from a Chibok school in Northern Nigeria, has raised a lot of questions. These questions hover around the horror and despair regarding the fate of these children forcefully taken away almost from their cradle. Ahmed Yerima’s Pari, an insurgent inspired play about a girl named Pari, takes us through the tortuous journey of a family who waits and hopes against hope for the return of their girl child. When she finally returns, we find a traumatised Pari, hardly recognizable and torn apart from herself and from family. She is unable to fit into the norm of an ideal society. This paper, therefore, examines the psychosocial effect of terror on both the family of Pari and on her immediate society. The study will also probe this play and the realities and effects of terrorism on the lives of young adults and children in the face of insurgencies.

Antigone in Ferguson: Representing Childhood Precarity Through/In/As Embodiment by Kristin Hunt, Arizona State University (USA)

In response to the conference’s aim to confront the present, this paper attends to the significance of the literal presence of young bodies onstage and in audiences, juxtaposing the bodies of performers and audience members in theatrical spaces with the bodies politic created and imagined in these creative acts of assembly. Taking inspiration from Judith Butler’s exploration of the body’s political significance in performative assembly, this paper asks how operations of precarity, assembly, protest, and performativity function in the particular case of young bodies as both performers of, and audiences for, public instances of protest and response to trauma. Using Bryan Doerries’s 2016 Antigone in Ferguson as a case study, this paper extends ongoing work on tragic Performance for Young Audiences, asking what happens when young bodies become both the medium for performances of precarity and grief as well as the means of representing contemporary problems of precarity to a larger public made up of youth and adult audiences.

Towards Community Resilience: Theatre for Young Audiences and the Mental Health Crisis by Ava Hunt, Derby University and Danny Braverman, Goldsmiths, University of London (UK)

Danny Braverman and Ava Hunt are both theatre-makers and scholars; their praxis allowing for a unique insight that is applicable to a global context. In this paper, the authors will explore the assertion – borne out by research – that Theatre for Young Audiences in schools can play a significant role in addressing the mental health crisis affecting young people in the UK, with global implications.