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Friday, 17 January 2014

Taking Children to the Theatre



'A visit to the theatre has the potential to be a life-changing experience, as well as an opportunity for a unique kind of learning. It can touch the imagination, arouse curiosity, or fire an artistic impulse. Theatre can also be an exceptional resource, linking as it does to so many areas of knowledge: history, geography, language, citizenship, and much more. Learning in theatres has its own skills-set – theatrical literacy and the understanding of dramatic conventions, a specialised vocabulary, and the ability to sit and watch a performance without distraction.'



I absolutely love going to the theatre! I am not a huge fan of musical theatre but love going to see dramas and Shakespeare plays. I have been very fortunate to have visited lots of theatres and have seen productions by The Royal Shakespeare Company and The Northern Broadsides along with plays by semi professionals and amateurs. It is very rare that I am disappointed.

 As part of my degree I did Drama Studies and saw myself as a bit of a Director, in fact I always say that being a Theatre Director or Producer would be my dream job if I wasn't in teaching. So when I go to the theatre I am always keen to see the play but also the setting, costume and lighting. I love it when I can see the Director, Producer of Set Designers have been particularly creative. This doesn't mean I expect anything overly elaborate because actually one of the Productions I was impressed with the most was The Northern Broadsides interpretation of a Shakespearen battle scene reenacted completely on drums.

Going to the theatre is quite an indulgence though as most plays are expensive and therefore it is an increasingly rare event. However, I am going tonight because I bought tickets to see War Horse at The Lowry Theatre Manchester for my husband as a Christmas present, he loved the film War Horse so I couldn't resist.

I am really looking forward to going and was thinking how much children would enjoy going to the theatre and the huge potential benefits of watching a play. After all lots of children love to perform and at very least watch plays in school. A recent production of Bugsy Malone performed at our school by children from across KS2 was hugely 
Successful with the whole school community. 

Those performing or helping with scene changes, ticket sales making the programme etc all benefit from a sense of achievement and a raise in their self esteem. It allowed pupils who may be struggling academically to shine like the stars they are.  

So I did a survey in my class of how many children have been to the theatre at all. Out of 30 children about 12 had been to a pantomime or dance/scout show and only 2 had been to the theatre to see a play. The cost is a factor for parents but perhaps worse for schools which is a real shame because as the quote from The Prince's Trust says above their are so many benefits.

I know we are able to get groups in and put on plays ourselves but what is missing then is the whole buzz of a theatre just before a performance begins! 

This is one of those blogs that doesn't really reach a conclusion because I do not know what the answer is other than perhaps to encourage parents to take children to the theatre as often as they can and maybe for theatres to offer hugely reduced tickets to schools occasionally therefore providing access to an experience that we know lots of children may never get!