The Young Audience

Exploring and Enhancing Children's Experiences of Theatre

September 2010
More details
  • Publisher
    Trentham Books
  • Published
    21st September 2010
  • ISBN 9781858564500
  • Language English
  • Pages 192 pp.
  • Size 6.875" x 9.75"
  • Images illus

Children’s theatre in the UK is thriving right now. Interest is growing in the educational, emotional and expressive benefits of theatre for young people; arguments about why children should watch theatre have become a central motif in debates about cultural policy and arts education. Yet, surprisingly, there has been almost no detailed and reflective research on these matters. While young children (aged 4-11) are increasingly provided for in terms of tailored theatre performances, the nature of children’s theatrical perceptions and their experiences of being in an audience has scarcely been investigated.

This book uses innovative visual-arts based audience research, practitioner interviews and contextual analysis to fill this gap in research and explore the nature of young children’s experiences of live theatre. It investigates three
primary areas:
* the cultural policy, educational and creative contexts in which theatre for children is made
* children’s aesthetic experiences of theatre
* the approaches through which children’s engagement with theatre can be enhanced, extended and deepened

The Young Audience provides a valuable resource for teachers, artists, researchers, students, policy makers and other professionals working with theatre and with children in various other contexts and environments. It significantly enhances existing cultural policy and educational research by providing a detailed, analytical and methodologically grounded understanding of how young children perceive and respond to live theatre performances. It thus provides vital insights into how we can better support and enhance children’s engagement with theatre.

“A fantastic resource for everyone interested in children’s theatre. Matthew Reason’s groundbreaking research provides fresh insights into children’s experiences of live theatre which are of great benefit to arts and education communities across the world.”

Tony Reekie, Chief Executive - , Imaginate

“The inspirational book, that cares passionately about the child’s gaze, should be welcomed and cherished.”

Tony Graham, Artistic Director - , Unicorn Theatre

Part One: Contexts and Questions
1) Theatre for Children and Education
Philip Pullman: Theatre - the true key stage
2) From Audience Development to Cultural Rights
Tony Graham: Children grow up not down
3) Quality in Theatre for Children
Peter Manscher and Peter Jankovic: Eye-level
Part Two: The Theatrical Experience
4) Researching Children's lived Experiences of Theatre
5) Theatrical Illusion and Material Reality
6) Theatrical Competence
7) Moral or Metaphorical Engagement
Part Three: Enhancing Engagement
8) Enhancing Engagement
9) Drawing on the Experience
10) Talking about Theatre
Talking about Theatre resource
'Looking': Photographs by Lisa Barnard
The Audience's Gaze

Matthew Reason

Matthew Reason is Senior Lecturer in Theatre at York St John University. He is author of Documentation, Disappearance and the Representation of Live Performance.