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Children's Theatre

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A good chunk of my show viewing time is likely to be taken up this year by plays for children. This is for research purposes, but also for enjoyment. The majority of children's theatre makers consider adults as a part of the audience, and there is plenty to be enjoyed by all. But show selecting can be a dangerous task, sometimes adults have been neglected and the result can be an extremely painful hour of repetitive, patronising doom.

There's also the danger of the embarrassment factor of sitting alone in an audience full of children. A couple of years ago at the Fringe I was accosted by a very direct six year old girl who turned to me in the audience of 'The Man Who Planted Trees' and asked (in my opinion in a voice louder than necessary). "Why are you here?" A row of heads snapped in my direction and her mother joined in. "Yeah, why are you here?" I decided that rather than explain that I enjoy a well told story and a good bit of puppetry I should play the professional card. "I make theatre...sometimes for children...errr I'm not here...I don't have a kid...but it's my job. Yeah it's my job...I'm not wierd." 

I think that incident was luckily fairly unusual though, I was talking to a couple of children's companies yesterday (makers of The Last Miner and of Norman Shadowboxer) and they both noted that the majority of their audiences have been adults. There has been a bit of a ressurgance in children's work in the last couple of years, particularly in Scotland and I'm glad to say that it is slowly creeping out of the sidelines. The presence of 'White' by Catherine Wheels in the Traverse programme this year is a notable step up for a sector of theatre which has previously been considered as something completely separate from the mainstream.

I'm looking forward to all of the children's work that I will be seeing in the next couple of weeks, and hope that others don't forget the weatlh of talent that lives in the green section of the Fringe brochure. If any adult is too embarrassed to go alone, let me know, I can join you and play the professional card. "Working...yes working...this is not for fun...we're not wierd."  


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