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TYA, Culture, Society

International Essays on Theatre for Young Audiences- A Publication of ASSITEJ and ITYARN


Edited By Manon van de Water

This unique edition is the result of the second International Theatre for Young Audiences Research Network (ITYARN) conference that was held in Malmoe, Sweden, in May 2011 as part of the XVIIth ASSITEJ World Congress and Festival. In fifteen essays that are illustrative of the wide variety as well as of the many opportunities for research in TYA, this book covers six continents, includes quantitative, qualitative, ethnographic/action, and historiographical methods, and highlights critical theory, philosophical discourse, play analysis, and other approaches. The essays deal with a broad range of issues, including representation, cultural contexts, questions of identity, race-, class-, and gender theory, notions of child and childhood, aesthetics, and the influence of media and dominant ideologies. ITYARN aims to further research in the field of theatre for young audiences to contextualize and theorize the lively artistic products for children and youth globally. It is the research network of ASSITEJ, the International Association of Theatre for Children and Youth, which co-produced this publication.


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Destabalizing Perception and Generating Meaning Seeking? Modeling TYA on the Dramaturgy of Children´s Imaginative Play-Drama


179 Destabilizing Perception and Generating Meaning Seeking? Modeling TYA on the Dramaturgy of Children’s Imaginative Play-Drama Faith Gabrielle Guss Introduction Innovative and meaningful theatre for children from three to seven years of age can be inspired by artists’ insight into children’s dramatic playing: its themes, symbolic form-languages, and expressive conventions. This statement is based on findings in my doctoral research (Drama Performance). From these findings, I will address the seminar themes: “the intersection of culture and aesthetics,” and “how this issue affects perception and the generation of meaning.” From a cul- tural anthropological perspective, the aesthetics of theatre art emerge out of the particular cultural, socio-political context in which artists are embedded. Their subjectivities, artistic sensibilities, preferences, and intentions are formed by this context, in whatever ideological direction. These, in turn, determine the nature of the creative process and its aesthetic outcomes in performance. As director, co-dramatist, and teacher in devising theatre for children three to seven years of age, I experienced a strong urge to study children’s cultural aesthetic: How do children, in the drama medium of their autonomous and col- lective pretend play, investigate, reflect over, interpret, and communicate their experiences and its meanings? In a field study in a kindergarten in Oslo, I filmed dramatic play sequences and transcribed and analyzed several of these in depth— as if they were theatre productions. In attempts to understand and make visible the players’ formal content and the meanings it carries, I applied theoretical per- spectives from social anthropology (Turner)...

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