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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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Does theatre for children exist? An unlikely model by Roberto Frabetti Does theatre for children exist? Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t. But asking this question again today, while I start writing this article, is not an academic exer- cise. I have been asked this question many times. I have also been asked other questions, and they were all similar to this one. Questions like “But is theatre for children real theatre?” or “Why divide an audience of children into age groups, isn’t theatre always theatre?” or “When a show is good, it should not be for a particular age group, can’t it be good both for children and adults at the same time?” Now then, though I always to respect the others’ different opinions, I like going in a “stubborn and contrary” direction.1 Not only do I think that theatre for children exists, but I also think that it has got its own dimension, that it is an exciting subset (in its mathematical meaning) of that wonderful set represented by theatre. I also believe that theatre for chil- dren is a set itself, formed by many subsets, each of them different from the other. Specificity is separation, but no necessarily contrast. Different units co- exist and create a great big unit. These are the basis of set theory. But if we don’t see the subsets, the particles; if we don’t see that each of them has its own particular balance; if we don’t observe the fragility of that balance,...

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