Is child a four letter word?

 Convener(s): Vicky Ireland

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

The problem is, Children’s Theatre can be patronising. (Wham, bam first point, a damner)

Children are more sophisticated than we believe, and can get things at adult level…do they need stuff made especially for them?

Yes, they need material at a certain level of communication to engage them.

Peter Brook said “perform theatre for children to find out how to make difficult things simple.”

Young people between 15-21 drop out of theatre (and reading) but often return. Theatre buildings are not user-friendly for them. Even if they enjoy it, it’s not cool to admit this. Seen as a middle class practise. Too expensive. They need theatre that connects them with social spaces to have sexual encounters.

Can’t force, only introduce, then it’s down to personal taste.

Buildings don’t cater for children.

The dark can frighten them.

Children with conditions such as autism are not catered for in buildings.

Children watch theatre in a different way to adults.

Theatre v. Cinema re pricing.

Theatre is looked down on in education as an easy degree.

Quote from book/play “Journey to the River Sea” – “children should lead big lives.” Great aspiration. Production at Unicorn satisfied the imaginations of both children and adults.

Our children are the most assessed in the whole world.

Our society is in crisis. We measure and monitor everything. We control everything. The arts in the lives of children are in jeopardy.

Working for children now requires huge form filling. Are you a paedophile? Teachers have huge risk assessment to take kids out – it has become, “an act of bravery.”

There is a massive divide between adults and children. We have lost the Italian idea of needing “a whole village to raise a child.”

So many parents hand over responsibility to childminders and teachers.

We need one-to-one storytelling at an early age.

Media don’t cover shows except at Christmas.

“Time Out” doesn’t pay freelance reviewers of Children’s Theatre.

Shows at weekend venues can range from good to abysmal. No monitoring.

Children are not critical; don’t have good taste, what taste they have is often modest.

Why are people fearful of being associated with CT? - Respect for practitioners very low.

Why is it still bottom of the theatre ladder?

Why is it not encouraged, talked about, explored in British Drama schools?

Why don’t we celebrate TIE, - originated here, - and which has spread throughout the world?

The problem of adults playing children. Can be v. embarrassing.

Don’t act them. Just keep their spirit inside you. 

Writing for children must be driven by passion.



All revenue funded organisations should include work for children (0-12yrs)

There should be a series of workshop for all interested parties, “How to create good Theatre for Children.”

More buildings like “The Ark” in Dublin concerned with quality not quantity. An important arts house for children.