By Erica Louise
In a world where hand held devices and gadgets are the norm, why would you consider taking your children to the theatre when screen entertainment is at the tip of your child’s fingers?
After all, aren’t trips to the theatre ridiculously expensive? And what happens if you’ve spent all that money and the kids don’t like it?
We’re about to debunk the myth that the theatre is a high-priced pastime reserved for grown-ups. Here are five reasons why you should take your children to the theatre.
#1 A trip to the theatre can cost less than a family outing to the cinema
Live shows tend to be painted with the same theatrical brush. Some might think of trips to the theatre as an exorbitant outing, and that can be true if you choose a Broadway musical performing in the heart of your city.
But theatre is far more than Broadway. Try comedies on for size, circus performances, historical plays, tribute acts, pantomime, fringe theatre and small stage productions.
It is also worth noting that tickets to performances at regional theatres are far more affordable than their major city cousins. In some cases, a trip to a regional theatre show will cost less than a family outing to the cinema.
#2 An opportunity for your children to see their favourite book come to life
Imagine that. Your children’s favourite bedtime book brought to life on the stage in front of their eyes. This is a very special experience for your children who may otherwise only know their favourite characters in paper form: on the pages of a book.
Famous books such as Eric Carl’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Julia Donaldson’s The Gruffalo, Judith Kerr’s The Tiger Who Came to Tea, Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton’s Story Treehouse and some of Roald Dahl’s classics are often on the family theatre rounds and are very much loved by children.
#3 Children’s theatre is designed for a younger audience
Smaller theatre productions are much less intense and often a lot shorter than fanciful big name musical productions. Again, regional theatres offer these styles of intimate shows that are not as overwhelming, nor as lengthy as the performances showing in large multi-level theatres.
Such shows are therefore a great way to begin your child’s journey into theatre. You can always work your way up to Broadway musicals at a later stage.
#4 Theatre is an all-encompassing sensory experience
When your children watch a movie on a big or small screen, they are no doubt enjoying the characters, the storyline or the music of their chosen feature length film, but are they really immersed in the journey? Probably not.
There’s a lot to be said for movie productions and indeed this involves a multitude of talent to complete. Theatre experts may argue, however, that the affect of a live performance is far greater on the senses than anything your children will see on a screen.
Theatre introduces your children to stage lighting, live music and song, costumes and stage design in way they will never experience when watching stories on a screen. Audiences are taken on a magical sensory journey during a live theatre show: they are more likely to notice a stage actor’s facial expression, the way the stage set adapts, the sparkle in the stage star’s costume or the way the music changes to reflect the mood of the scene. Such sensory sightings complete a story in a way your children cannot possibly experience any other way.
#5 Children’s theatre is interactive, informal and fun
Don’t worry too much if your children won’t sit still during a theatre production. Youth theatre productions are designed for a child’s enjoyment. The length of live shows created for kids is shorter, often without intervals and many include interactive narratives to involve small members of the audience – which at times call upon everyone to get up on their feet to dance or sing.
Theatres hosting children’s productions will understand that there may be more than a handful of little ones who have not experienced live theatre before. Some productions even host sensory-friendly sessions for those children who may find loud noises difficult to process. If your children are not coping too well, there is often the opportunity to leave the theatre and return after a short break; check with the theatre in question before you book tickets if you are unsure.
Are you convinced yet?
Once you have commenced your family’s journey into live theatre, you won’t look back. Live theatre is a wonderful activity for all ages, and a great way to expose your children, regardless of age, into new styles of artistic and cultural narratives.
Check your local theatre to see what’s on for your children this season and give live theatre a go.