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If you are taking children to the theatre, it is worth your while preparing them for the experience.
THE THEATRE PLAY CAN BE A BIG AND OVERWHELMING EXPERIENCE
The story – which can be both gloomy, scary, and serious – is told with different theatre effects; actors, illumination/darkness, and sound, and all this can be overwhelming.
Not everybody has the needed capability or experience to process a substantial theatre performance. As a first resort, some children choose to leave the auditorium to protect themselves from the strong impressions. This is a completely understandable strategy, but it is a pity to miss the theatre play and not be able to talk about it with those who stayed and watched it to the end.
Preparing the children will contribute to ensuring them a wonderful experience. For example, it is a good idea to talk to them about the theatre play’s story, themes, and effects.
THE THEATRE EFFECTS
Theatre is not like film nor literature. The very fact that the theatre play is happening in the present moment in the room you are in can be overwhelming for the children. A talk about the theatre effects can work to demystify and establish a healthy distance to the things happening on stage.
Among other things, theatre plays consist of sound (music and sound effects), illumination (switching between lighting, darkness, flickering light, bright, and dim light), the actors’ movements (the arrangement), the story (the lines), the costumes, and the props and scenography (the appearance of the auditorium, the stage design and the objects placed on the stage). Sometimes, we use special effects like smoke or fire. Remember to tell the children that underneath the extravagant and sometimes slightly scary costume there is always an actor hiding – a real human being.
THE STORY AND THE THEMES
You can prepare the children for the s theatre play’s storyline by reading the play description aloud to them. You can also talk about the themes that the theatre play handles. If the theatre play is built on a story, you already know (e.g., from a book or movie) you can refer to that.
PLAYING THEATRE AT HOME
You can dramatise parts of the story at home. Drama exercises and role playing give children a better understanding of the nature of theatre and the emotions at play in the story. It will help them realise that the things happening on stage are “just something we are playing.”
WHEN YOU ARE SITTING IN THE AUDITORIUM
We advise all adults not to comment on the storyline during the theatre play. Instead, we recommend that you let the children experience the theatre play in their own way. Children react intuitively and that is completely okay!
AFTER THE THEATRE PLAY
After the theatre play, you can meet the actors. It can bring an extra layer to the experience, and it is an effective way to break the illusion in case the theatre play overwhelmed the children. Afterwards, you can talk about how and to what extend the theatre play met your expectations. Did it have the plot that you thought it would? How were the illumination and the sound used? How were the themes addressed?
DRAW WITH YOUR CHILDREN
After the theatre play, it can be a good idea to draw scenes, themes, and props from the theatre play. Drawing is a good way to process an experience. You are more than welcome to send us the drawings!
MORE INFO ON TAKING CHILDREN TO THE THEATRE
Do you need more information? We recommend that you read more about the topic at www.zeppelin.dk/care