Youthful Ambitions; Introducing Children to Theatre Is Vital, after All They Are the Audiences of the Future. an International Organisation Dedicated to Theatre for Young People Has Just Held a Conference in Europe. Two Artistic Directors from Wales Were There to Share Their Experiences. They Reveal the Importance of the Event

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), June 10, 2011 | Go to article overview

Youthful Ambitions; Introducing Children to Theatre Is Vital, after All They Are the Audiences of the Future. an International Organisation Dedicated to Theatre for Young People Has Just Held a Conference in Europe. Two Artistic Directors from Wales Were There to Share Their Experiences. They Reveal the Importance of the Event


ALMOST 50 years ago an international organisation called ASSITEJ was set-up to support the creation of theatre for young audiences.

Since that time it has flourished and now has centres in more than 80 countries.

Every three years people from this global network meet to develop the work they do and see performances from other countries.

These world congresses are inspiring events and have resulted in numerous international collaborations and exchanges taking place that wouldn't otherwise have happened. Recently the ASSITEJ family gathered for a world congress and performance festival jointly hosted by Denmark and Sweden, two countries with a strong reputation for the theatre they make for children and young people.

With the support of Wales Arts International we were able to take a group of venue programmers and freelance directors to take part in the event.

My favourite performances were Hans Christian Anderson, You Must Be An Angel, which was created by a Danish company called Teatret Gruppe 38, and Berlin, 1961, an international co-production involving theatre makers from Germany, Norway and the UK. Both worked so well because they were ambitious and richly visual pieces of theatre. For Hans Christian Anderson, You Must Be An Angel, Anderson had invited 20 of his characters to dinner. The two performers in the piece were the waiters for the event, with Anderson and his protagonists represented by some beautifully intricate, and surprising, mechanical inventions and video projections.

And everyone who had seen them were saying pieces called Prime from the Netherlands and White by Catherine Wheels from Scotland were festival hits.

Here in Wales, the family tree of companies making work for young people stretches back to the mid 1970s when the Breconshire Theatre Company was created.

Young and family audiences are really important to us here at Sherman Cymru. In the four years I've been working for the company we've created some lovely work that I'm really proud of.

Later this year we will be producing The Elves and the Shoemakers by Mike Kenny for the three to six age range. First performed by the Sherman Theatre Company in the 1990s, The Elves and the Shoemakers came at the top of many people's 'favourite production from the past' list when we began thinking about producing an existing script. We're commissioning a translation of the script into Welsh so that we can give performances in English and Welsh. The production will tour from mid November, with a three-week run in the Weston Studio at the Wales Millennium Centre in December. The Elves and the Shoemakers will be our last production out of the building before Sherman Cymru reopens in early 2012.

We're lining up some great work for when we're back, including the delightful White which we first saw at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe last year, and working towards holding a new festival for young and family audiences in spring 2013. With all the participatory work we do as well, children and young people will be at the heart of Sherman Cymru's future. …

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Youthful Ambitions; Introducing Children to Theatre Is Vital, after All They Are the Audiences of the Future. an International Organisation Dedicated to Theatre for Young People Has Just Held a Conference in Europe. Two Artistic Directors from Wales Were There to Share Their Experiences. They Reveal the Importance of the Event
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