nostalgia · theatre · youth theatre

How soon we lay down the (theatre) rules

Last week I was volunteering for a local theatre venue at a children’s show. As a steward I sat at the back ready to let anyone in or out as required. This viewpoint always gives such an oversight of the audience and non more interesting than the day’s crowd: 135 youngsters all under the age of 8, gathered to see a children’s production of some well known and very popular welsh language children’s characters.

What caught my attention was just how aware or the children were of the ‘rules’ on entering the theatre space. They hushed their voices when the house lights came down, they sat mostly quiet and watching… and I was surprised, because the most wonderful moments came when that spell was broken. When the evil character seemingly disappeared in a sudden boom and cloud of smoke they collectively jumped out of their chairs, chattered and turned around to see one another, a shared experience of delight and surprise. When there was laughter and pointing at the action on stage, as they waved and watched the characters leave the stage and head out the main auditorium door, their absoluter delight and finding them stood in the foyer to wish them well on their way out.

It seems as if we are early indoctrinated into the rules of the theatre. It also seems that we re-act eagerly to escape these rules as well.


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