Author 張麗玉 Li-yu Chang
Affiliation National University of Tainan, Taiwan
Article Language Chinese

APA Citation

Chang, L. (2017). Audience Participation in Children’s Theatre: Why and How. The Journal of Drama and Theatre Education in Asia, 7, 53-76.

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Opinions are diverse as to whether audience participation is an essential element in children’s theatre. Some think that as young children are naturally active, unable to sit still for long periods of time, due to their short attention span, audience participation is indispensable for it can capture their attention while meeting their needs of being physically active. Others consider that audience participation may interrupt the flow of the story or disturb the performance, so they would rather see less participation from the audience. Nevertheless, children’s theatre, as its name indicates, means drama productions staged specifically for young children; the characteristics of children and their needs, presumably, should be taken into account in the devising process. That said, theatre, as an art form having its own unique aesthetics, should not be compromised solely to satisfy children’s demands. The key may lie in maintaining a delicate balance between these two views. How can the features of children’s development be considered a plus instead of a minus in terms of theatrical aesthetics? Based on children’s behavioural characteristics, theories of child development and audience participation, this article explores and analyses the crucial factors and the presentation forms of audience participation in two children’s plays staged in the 2016 HKREP Children’s Theatre Festival. The findings of the study are expected to serve as reference for the production and appreciation of children’s theatre.

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