THEATRE FOR KIDDIES, NO KIDDING!!

When preparing a new subject what is usually a free-time activity for fun suddenly becomes work. I’m now reading non-stop for a subject on Contemporary British Drama (1980s-2000s), which I haven’t taught in a long time and truly look forward to teaching this second semester, and, so, now attending any play means work, yes, even a play for kids.

The one I attended recently, a danced version of Pinotxo by Cía. Roseland at Teatre Poliorama in Barcelona, left me open-mouthed with its daring, clever multi-media approach (have a look at https://il.youtube.com/watch?v=xLx5yzKM3bA&feature=related). Many adults shouted ‘Bravo’ at the end and this has been an habitual reaction in the about 10 plays for kids I’ve seen in the last year and a half. I haven’t found really anything so fully satisfactory in the theatre for adults (I’ll make two exceptions: El Ball and Agost, both at TNC).

I was, like many people I’m sure, prejudiced, thinking that kiddies’ theatre could by no means compare to adult theatre. I was SO wrong I don’t know where to begin to apologise to all those companies that work SO hard not just at entertaining children but at making them sophisticated theatre spectators: Roseland, Ego Petits, Comediants, la Joventut de la Faràndula, La Trepa, Més Tumàquet… Hey, the only thing I can say is, check if there’s any kid in your family or circle of friends willing to give theatre a try and go. (They’re not always up to it, no matter how enticing you may sound… by the way, it’s just a bit more expensive than cinema and can even be cheaper. It’s worth it!).

The kids take in their stride every experimental play they see -and, believe me, they are experimental to a degree you would never guess- as the most normal thing. Indeed, not all adults can be so open-minded, though I know that you can’t turn a child into a theatre spectator if s/he doesn’t have the inclination. The only thing that worries me is that it’s usually us, the adults, clapping wildly at the end while few kiddies show the same exact degree of enthusiasm. Of course, being so young they can’t know that what they’re being offered is truly special and it’s hard to explain this to them unless they’re subjected to a temporary diet of very bad theatre (um, where?).

Paradoxically, with all this exciting theatre the kids might grow up to be jaded, soon-bored spectators and abandon the theatre eventually, if you know what I mean. I also worry about how the gap is filled between the ages of, say, 10, when kids probably simply reject kiddies theatre as too childish and, 18 (16?), when they’re ready for adult theatre. Or maybe earlier? No idea, really… That’s how little I, as a Literature teacher, know about the wildly underrated theatre for children and about kids as theatre spectators. Time to learn more.

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