Theatre is my absolute favourite thing. It is the thing which gets me more excited than anything. My second favourite thing in the world is to watch children watch theatre.
I will never forget the first time I saw a play. I must have been about 4 years old at the time and my mother had taken me to see a children’s show at Artscape. (the Nico Malan then) I remember the sense of something wonderful taking place and I knew I had to be a part of it. A world that didn’t really exist was being created before my eyes and we the audience were transported there. Audience and actors were both in it together, regardless of age, gender or culture. In this moment in time everyone was on the same page, sharing the same experience and it was the most beautiful thing ever. I discovered that this was called theatre and I was hooked for life.
Theatre changed everything for me. The idea that you could make something from nothing and turn into something, sent me into a tail spin. That you could create something from your imagination and then present it and share it with others (and they were willing), was the purest form of wonder and joy to me. My heart skipped a beat. You see I had naturally being doing this at home in my bedroom for my teddy bears, but I had no idea what it was called or even that anyone else was doing it. I realised that there was a whole world of people out there, doing this and this was the best discovery ever for my four year old self. I started Drama and performing the following year and I’ve never looked back.
There is something incredibly special and fleeting about live theatre. No two performances are exactly the same, so when something is live you are seeing something which will never be repeated. There’s no rewind button or record button, so it forces you to be completely in the moment as the actor and the audience. A show brings so many talents together, all working together for a common goal. Theatre encapsulates so beautifully what it means to work as a team, even the audience is part of the team.
In no better way can we explore what it means to be human than in the theatre. It can encourage discussion and be a catalyst for change and there are no better examples than in the works of Athol Fugard, Barney Simon, Zakes Mda and Peter Dirk Uys during apartheid. It can give a voice to the voiceless and help connect people by higlighting where we are similar and show us that we are not alone.
Theatre made me think that anything was possible and that the world could be beautiful. In turn, it made think that anything was possible for me, if I believed. It made me want to make the world beautiful. It opened my mind and my heart and it taught me who I wanted to be. As some one once said ‘art is the place where you understand your whole life from.’
So why should we take children to the theatre? Here are 6 reasons!
- First it does no harm
- It expresses a basic human instinct of connection with others and exploration of ourselves.
- Both the making of theatre and attending of theatre contribute to education and literacy. Watching the characters talk back and forth in the theatre is tricky; it requires sharp attention, concentration, quick mental shifts, and nimble language skills.
- It teaches us about human motivation and psychology.
- Theatre brings people together. In an age when most of our communication happens in front of a screen, I think that this gathering function of theatre is, in and of itself, something that matters.
- It influences the way we think and feel about our own lives and encourages us to take a hard look at ourselves, our values, and our behavior.
Please take your kiddies to the theatre, if nothing else it will make them dream 🙂