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Theatre for Young Audiences


Theatre for Young Audiences A Short History Childhood is relatively new Until the last century, most children received only a 3rd grade education and then were placed ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Theatre for Young Audiences

Theatre for Young Audiences
  • A Short History

Childhood is relatively new
  • Until the last century, most children received
    only a 3rd grade education and then were placed
    in the work force, either as farm hands or in
    industrial environments.
  • With the 20th century came the push for K-12
    education for the public, creating the
    demographic of childhood and teens.

Theatre for Youth is new
  • Plays have existed since Classical Greece (400
    B.C.) but have only been developed for children
    within the past century.
  • Children were grouped with adults in public
    entertainments and most entertainment now
    considered for children, was originally for
  • Puppetry, pantomimes and melodramas attracted
    family audiences.

20th Century Developments
  • People produce plays because they will make
  • Children did not have money and were not
    considered a viable audience.
  • Once adults felt it was important to provide
    entertainment for children and families, plays
    for young audiences began to emerge.

  • New York Theatres began to produce adaptations of
    fairy tales that were very popular with family
  • Cinderella
  • Aladdin
  • The Crystal Slipper
  • Little Red Riding Hood

Frances H. Burnett
  • Little Lord Fountleroy ushered in a period of
    active play production.
  • Also wrote A Little Princess
  • Broadway produced an average of one play for
    children per year for the next 30 years.
  • Plays were not original works, however, they were
    adaptations of traditional stories and books.

J.M. Barrie
  • Credited with writing the first original play for
    young audiences Peter Pan was written for
    the stage, not adapted, in 1905.
  • The play is still produced today.

Recreational Theatre Grows
  • Alice Minnie Hertz established the Childrens
    Educational Theatre as a means of exposing
    immigrant children to literature and theatre.
  • Mostly performed adaptations.
  • Did not spur the development of original works.
  • Development of creative dramatics begins.
  • Plays were developed for amature productions and
    focus became narrow.

  • Community Theatre movement begins and spurs the
    development of plays for Young Audiences.
  • In 1928 over half of the outstanding community
    theatres produced at least one production for
    young audiences.

  • Recreational Drama takes the place of
    professional theatre in the lives of young
    people. Plays are developed for children to
    perform in, rather than see as an audience.
  • Most scripts written by amateurs which sacrificed
    character and plot development for large casts to
    be performed by children.

Claire Tree Major Childrens Theatre
  • 1924, the theatre established a network of
    touring plays for young audiences that traveled
    across the U.S.
  • Theatre exposed children to the art form but did
    not expand the repertoire of available plays
    since most were written by Mr. Major herself. As
    a result, they were never performed anywhere

Charlotte Chorpenning
  • Goodman Childrens Theatre Chicago 1932-1952
    Chorpenning wrote over 40 original plays and
    collaborated on several others.
  • She held workshops on writing for the youth
    audience an mentored writers, thus inspiring
    other serious playwrights to create shows for
    young audiences.
  • Most plays dramatizations of folk or fairy tales
    with specific structure and designed to be
    presented in a realistic manner.

Childrens Theatre Press
  • Begun in 1935 by Sarah Spencer, the publishing
    company, now known as Anchorage Press, was the
    first publisher of plays for young audiences.
  • Now writers were inspired to write for young
    audiences because there was a way to encourage
    other producers to buy their plays.

Federal Theatre Project
  • During the depression the Works Progress
    Administration (WPA) formed the project to create
    jobs for theatre professionals.
  • Professional actors and directors were also
    collaborating with acrobats and magicians and
    other variety performers.
  • Over 50 plays were developed for young audiences,
    and over half were original works.

  • Community programs filled the void left by the
    departure of professional productions.
  • The majority of plays were still fairy tale
  • Standards were growing in playwriting and
    production that would gradually raise the
    standards of what Theater for Young Audiences
    should be.

1950 - 1980
  • The development of professional theatre companies
    solely dedicated to performing for young people.
  • New theatre companies often had resident writers
    and used improvisation to develop new plays.
  • Experimentation led away from fairytales and
    created modern plays of different styles.

Childrens Theatre Company
  • Founded in 1961, the theatre still serves as the
    leading Theatre for Young Audiences in the US.
  • Minneapolis, MN theatre company dedicated to high
    production values, a strong theatre school and
    creating new adaptations for the stage.
  • They are know for bringing the book to life.
    Plays adapted from famous story books look just
    like the illustrations in the story.

Forces behind new works
  • British and European influences set the standard
    for what American writers wanted to create.
  • Plays were written to reflect the times and
    became based upon modern issues, themes and
  • Plays began to run the gamut in style, subject
    and quality.

Aurand Harris
  • Most prolific American TYA writer.
  • Over 30 plays including adaptations and original
  • The Arkansas Bear
  • Once Upon a Clothesline
  • Androcles and the Lion
  • The Pinballs

Susan Zeder
  • Prolific TYA writer and dramaturge. Well know
    for writing plays of social significance and
    expert style.
  • Wiley and the Hairyman
  • Ozma of Oz
  • Doors
  • In a Room Somewhere

Y. York and James Still
  • Relevant plays of social themes.
  • The Snowflake Avalanche
  • The Afternoon of the Elves
  • Hush An Interview with America
  • Tales from the Suicide Mountains

Present day TYA
  • Almost every major city in the US has a resident
    Theatre for Young Audiences.
  • Several professional organizations for TYA
    professionals for research and journals.
  • Several publishers of plays for young people.

Challenges for the Future
  • Creating relevant plays for a changing
  • Keeping theatre vital in a technological world.
  • Advocating the validity of TYA as an important
    part of education and community.
  • Increasing the profile of TYA so that more people
    support and demand TYA for current and future