If you were asked what’s the most important aesthetic about creating Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA), what would your answer be? A week ago I pondered that during a group discussion at the Write Now Conference led by Jason Loewith, former director of the National New Play Network. The room was filled with TYA playwrights, directors, artistic directors and professors from across the nation. I heard a lot of great answers: theatre should challenge ideas, inspire conversations, illuminate diverse voices, and provide hope. I listened for a long time, until my own answer synthesized...
I believe that theatre for young audiences should provide a safe place to explore a scary world.
It’s not a be-all, end-all answer, but it was the one that resonated with me the deepest. I’ve decided the same holds true for all story and it’s one of the reasons I love story so much. It creates a space for us to rattle around in someone else’s skin, try new ideas on for size and risk making mistakes - all from the safe distance of our comfortable chairs.
That doesn’t mean that story can’t be uncomfortable or painful even. El Gallo’s line from the play The Fantastiks illuminates part of a playwright or storyteller’s job:
“Who understands why spring is born out of winter's laboring pain?
Or why we all must die a bit before we grow again?
I do not know the answer, I merely know it's true
I hurt them for that reason. And myself a little bit, too.
But no matter where the journey leads, the story always leads us home again. I hope this blog will also provide a similar safe place, where story and the human experience can be explored in all its complexity.