Children- Where are all the good shows?

Austin Hewitt, 2 October 2012

The discussion included the following people:

Anne Farrah, Austin Hewitt, Graeme Phillips, Mark Smith, Kathryn Worthington, Francesca Waite, Porl Cooper.

This question was posed by myself with several questions underneath it. As a practitioner interesting in developing work in this field i've found it difficult to access networks as an individual. The following has helped me make a start.

Its clear that there are many excellent organisations creating work forr children and young people.,.. there also a lot creating mediocre work that doesnt inspire and invigorate the minds of our children/ future theatregoers.

In terms of networks, there are several around the uk… two of note were discussed, mainly from a venue booking/ promoting point of view, that i found of particular use and interest.

Chris Elwell (Half moon theatre) holds a forum networking event in the south East (This december in jacksons lane) where artistic directors share experiences and valuble insights to whats hot n not in the wold of childrens theatre…

Immersive shows in terms of the very young are extrememly good at engaging young audiences.

The point of view of access for parents cost of tickets and the venues attitude towards families and those attending was discussed… From a parental point of view venues that engage with the children when it comes to their expereinces of visiting the theatre seem to do better… make parents want to come back to the venue.

The thought was raised that if venues had a cafe/ food place attached that made it easier to feed their kids at tea-time they would probably come to the theatre at the tea time type slots.

Volunteer staff… and theatre staff in general should be geared up to helping young people get the best out of their experiences. Greeting the young people and making them feel special really enhances the experience. Some venues (Palace Theatre Manchester??) have tailored ticketing options available when booking online… so the child's name is on their own ticket… creating special memories that can inspire future theatre visits.

I posed the question of the necessity of a local childrens theatre here in the northwest… its long been an ambition to inspire the opening of a dedicated space for children here in liverpool/ merseyside. 

we discussed the LARC symposium and how they are wanting to engage young people in the selection of theatre in the region. The suggestion was also made of including parents of young children… to gear some selection for the under 5s

The need for further intereaction with families with regards to the show is also highlighted… especially

There was the question of quality throughout the discussion… as its expensive for families to come to the theatre there is an expectation of quality.

There was also a question of showcasing new work… there seems to be good networks in Scotland and also for International Companies… but where are the

English Welsh Irish companies able to showcase.

One member mentioned the difficulty when making call outs for scripts… where are the writers for young peoples theatre.


Programming, programming, Elspeth Murray, childrens theatre, En Masse, Imaginate Festival, Vanishing Point, volunteers, Childrens theatre, Half Moon Theatre, Volunteers