We asked our authors the question, "Why do you write for young audiences?" Below are three of the replies...
Noelle Donfeld shares:
I believe it is extremely valuable both to theatre in general and to the artistic and social growth of children to introduce young people to theatre that engages them. In addition, children’s theatre is a means to develop an appreciation for live performance, helping to ensure the future of dramatic arts. My first children’s musical, Mita the Magnificent, mixes a third grade science curriculum with an appreciation of the differences among people, using insects in lieu of humans. As there are so many Spanish speaking students in American schools, I felt it was important to include a bi-lingual element in the show. Through this musical, the children learn all about these insects, plant cycles, weather, and other elementary science facts along with the lesson about the value of every individual. Theatre provides an enjoyable venue in which to learn both academic and social truths.
Carol S. Lashof offers these thoughts:
I love to be in a theater filled with children, teens, and families. I love how directly and personally young audiences respond to what is happening on stage. I discovered this love about twenty years ago, when I helped my daughters' elementary school organize a field trip to attend a children's theater production. For the majority of the students, this was their first experience of attending a play performed live. Their excitement was over the top. A few years later, a colleague, Kate Mendeloff, was working as a director at Young People's Theatre in Ann Arbor, Michigan; she invited me to write a script appropriate for her actors, who ranged in age from 8-18. Two wonderful collaborations followed (Persephone Underground and The Minotaur), and I discovered the joy of writing for young performers--how moving and inspiring it is to write for people who give themselves so completely to the world of the play.
Persephone Underground at Young People's Theatre (Ann Arbor, MI)
Donna Spector invites us to know:
I don’t always write for young audiences, but even when I write plays primarily aimed at adults, I usually include younger characters. Their voices come to me easily, I suppose because I’ve taught high school English, theatre and creative writing for many years. Even outside the classroom I’ve spent time with my students—taking them to New York theatre, to play and poetry festivals and even on overseas trips to Greece and England. Before I taught high school I was a teaching principal of an alternative elementary school that my friends and I created for our young children, so their voices float into my plays as well.
Big thank yous to Noelle, Donna, and Carol for sharing their reflections. Please check back with the YouthPLAYS blog for Parts One and Two of this series responding to the question, "why do you write for young audiences?"
Happy writing, everyone!