International Essays on Theatre for Young Audiences- A Publication of ASSITEJ and ITYARN
TYA-UK Developments – Reflections through a Looking Glass
David Broster Of all the genres [… ] theatre for young people has had one of the most intimate relationships with politics since its emer- gence in the 1950s. (Lane 151) The development of theatre for children and young audiences (TYA) in the UK has been inextricably linked with and shaped by changes in the political, so- cial, and cultural landscape; subsequent reforms in education; and changes in arts funding. However the success of TYA—not only in terms of its profile and status but also in terms of the content, aesthetics, and parameters of its work—is not exclusively in the hands of its target audience. It is significantly influenced by those who mediate for them, i.e. parents, teachers, politicians, carers, and of course, theatre practitioners themselves. The proliferation and development of TYA is therefore significantly affected by the values and attitudes of those for whom the work is not intended, but who are the decision makers for those for whom the work is intended. Political, social, and cultural influences invariably play a determining role by molding and establishing the position and perception not only of theatre—and more broadly the arts—but also of children and young people themselves. There is a strong interrelationship between TYA, politics, and education since one of the principal platforms for producing work for children, outside of the theatre itself, is schools. There is a mutual focus on children and young people, but political pressures via government educational targets, cur- riculum priorities, and the commercial...
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