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Theatre for Early Years

Research in Performing Arts for Children from Birth to Three

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Edited By Wolfgang Schneider

There is an old phenomenon in theatre arts: Education! And there is a new tendency: theatre arts for the very young! The relationship to education is clear, but what about the profit for the arts? The world of children as a horizon of experiences? The role of music as a dramaturgical element? Is it needed to divide the performance in actors and spectators? Is there a special age for a successful reception? How much should theatre artists be confronted with the physical and psychological development of children? It seems that Theatre for Early Years is a work in progress. There are more and more examples on the stages of the world: In Europe, in the States, in Australia. A variety of different perspectives are included in this research in performing arts from birth to three. The authors are reflecting their work, their observations, their directorship – to discover a new audience, to accompany the new generation in aesthetics, to make the signs of the time transparent. And maybe the development of Theatre for Early Years is a new challenge to renew the language of theatre, to establish an art of simplicity for the complexity of theatre.

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Big drama for small spectators Unga Klara’s Swedish experiment by Dan Höjer – Theatre about fertilization, about life in the womb and the meaning of life, a performance for babies between six and twelve months and adults who accom- pany the children. There were many who smiled at director Suzanne Osten be- fore the performance “Babydrama” was set up at Unga Klara in Stockholm. Never before had anyone ever produced ‘serious theatre’ for such small chil- dren: nobody in the whole world. But its success has been total. After more than seventy performances, the play reopened on the 27th of April 2007. And the au- dience’s rush continued. Only a few days on, most shows were already sold out. The critics tried to surpass each other with superlatives. Enthusiastically, they described how an audience of twelve babies and their parents was sitting there, spellbound. The newspaper “Göteborgs-Posten” commented: “There is a level of concentration and on-the-edge attentiveness in the auditorium which every thea- tre ensemble dreams of.” And Swedish Radio P 5 broadcast the ultimate praise: “I think this play is a reason for having children.” And, like the onion on top of a slice of salmon, the ensemble of “Babydrama” was nominated for the “Swedish Award of Drama Critique for Children’s and Young People’s Theatre” 2006. And the world became curious about this Swedish theatre experiment. Suz- anne Osten and Ann-Sofie Bárány, author of “Babydrama” travelled to Paris where they presented the project and were met...

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