What is Theatre and What Can, or Should, It Be?
Part 1: Personal Statement
According to my personal experience, theater is a force capable of bringing significant change to young people’s lives. Theatre has played a major role in my life ever since I was a child. I took interest in it at school during an art class. The rich artistic tradition of theater as described by the teacher during class intrigued me, compelling me to join a community musical theater group. Since then, I have spent a big part of my leisure time in a rehearsal hall preparing for my next performance. My sister and I would attend rehearsals four nights a week just to make sure that we were well prepared for our next performance. Spending most of my time in the community theater taught me much. I felt more fulfilled doing what I love most and as spending my time with people who share my passion for the theater. My experiences at the theater boosted my confidence on stage and in life in general. It taught me that putting in hard work really does count.
By acting in the performances I had the privilege of participating in at the Community Theater, I learned how to express myself and communicate my feelings effectively. I also learned that theater is all about practice and recovering well in the event you make a mistake on stage. I apply the skills I have acquired in the theater as a child in many aspects of my daily life. I have learned to always practice until I got something right and try my best to recover whenever I make a mistake. This way, theater has played a major role in shaping my life today.
After participating in the work of my local acting community, I see theater as a beautiful form of art that provided me with a suitable platform to cast my fears aside and express my true self without having to hold back or feign shyness. Aside from being a great leisure activity, theater is my favorite form of art and a true advocate for my personal expression as a child.
My best experience with theater happened at the “Theatre Royal” in New Castle during a showing of “Beauty and the Beast.” The theater building had an excellent stage with a grand curtain that created just the right air of mystery to capture the audience’s attention in between the acts. further, the theater had a large classic auditorium with colorful lighting. I has been constructed in a way so all the actors could be easily seen. The red velvety seats were arranged in an elegant semi-circular pattern so that the whole audience, regardless of the seating position, could view the stage. The actors and actresses were in elegant old fashioned attire that complemented the play, which took place during the olden times, well. The play told a romantic story which was performed in a brilliant manner by the actors who effectively brought the script to life. They acted equally well during deeply emotional acts of love, tribulations, and the ultimate happy ending.
My understanding of theater has drastically changed over the years. As a child, I loved the theater for the wonderful experiences I got from performing with my local community theater group. Another the great lessons I learned from being a part of the theater community was the importance of hard work and persistence in achieving excellence. Today, I recognize that I have adopted these lessons and used them in my life later on. I appreciate the theater even more now for shaping me into the person I am today.
My most impactful theater experience was attending a performance of Henrik Ibsen’s “An Enemy of the People,” an inspiring play I watched at the Chichester Festival Theater. The play was set in a town that had just built a grand bathing complex that served the community at large. Dr. Stockmann, the main character, discovered that the bathing complex's drainage system was polluted, thus posing a threat to the town. He alerted several of the town’s authorities, including the journalists who acknowledge his efforts. However, the town’s mayor who was also the main character’s brother was not happy with his sentiments. He did not believe the doctor’s findings and was reluctant to have the baths repaired citing that it would be too costly. The town’s mayor managed to convince the journalists against publishing the doctor's findings. The doctor went on to fight for his beliefs and the good of the town, despite the challenges and the opposition on the part of the mayor, citing that, “The strongest man is he who stands alone”.
In my opinion, “An Enemy of the People” made for a very impactful play. It was very educative and exposed the tyranny present in the society at the hands of powerful leaders that put themselves before the well-being of the people in the society. The theater performance was in itself very intriguing, from the actors’ and actresses’ costumes to the satirical tone of the play. Additionally, the theater stage on which the actors performed was very grand.
Part 2: Research on an Emerging Contemporary Theater Company
My main subject of research is The New Victory Theater Company, which is a new exquisite theater situated in the New York City. This theater is a one of a kind since its primary repertoire is plays and art performances designed for children, as opposed to that of the old-fashioned theaters that only offer adult content. The theatre also consists of a curriculum that engages young students in various theatric activities such as dance, music, puppetry, circus, and others. In this way, students of all ages ranging from preschool to the 12th grade are exposed to a wide range of theatric performances in this New York theater. This is a good way of introducing the concept of aesthetics to students at a young age. The company’s education department has forged relationships with various schools in order to introduce programs of performing arts to students and develop creativity in children.
In my opinion, theaters for children, such as the New Victoria Theater mentioned above, are a new intriguing concept which is of personal interest to me. The following are the five interview questions I would like to ask in an interview for a children’s theater company.
- What inspired the establishment of this kind of Theater Company (theater for children)?
This question would be useful in explaining how the company came to the idea of establishing a theater for children as opposed to the usual theaters with adult content.
- When did you host your first performance and how did it go?
Since the society is usually apprehensive of change, this question would help give a vivid picture of how the audience welcomed this new type of theater as opposed to the normal types of theater companies that people are accustomed to.
- What is your opinion/philosophy on theater as a potential career as taught in academic curriculum?
The company would be compelled by this question to give their views on professional theater and on whether it is advisable to recommend young actors to join the theater professionally later on in life.
- What has lead to the idea of the company’s engagement with schools and becoming an academic influence?
This question brings to light the reasons why the theater company is dedicated to interacting with children all over the world and introducing them to the theater experience.
- What are the goals of the The New Victory Theatre company’s education department?
The answer will help me understand whether the theater company’s efforts to infuse arts in school curriculum actually benefit the children and whether their efforts are welcome.
Part 3: Description of an Ideal Model Theatre
My ideal model theater is The New Kidzone theater. It provides non-profit art performances the main audience of which is children and their parents. The New KidZone Theater’s paramount mission is to make theatrical performances a more enjoyable form of arts for children by working in close collaboration with teaching artists and providing performing arts lessons to infuse creativity in the younger generation.
The theater travels all around the world all year around attending international festivals and showcasing its acts in order to provide children with exciting theatrical experiences for the purpose of introducing new skills and interest in arts to the children. The theater also has a school art program to promote arts in school curriculum so as to encourage creativity amongst students in school regardless of grade level. The theater’s staff includes many very talented artists and creators who work tirelessly to produce new plays for children to enjoy. Besides, the theater company offers several types of productions.
Comedy plays involve funny, comical content and happy endings. The content is usually based on everyday life matters. Comedy is a good genre for children, especially because of their innocence and fun-loving nature. Therefore, many plays performed by the theater company are comedies. As effective as comedy is, it cannot be viewed too many times lest it loses its humor. Therefore, after their release, they do not feature too long before getting replaced. However, some comedies do stay popular for a long time, which is a credit to their great creators. Comedy is, therefore, amongst the most vital genres featured in children’s plays at the New KidZone Theatre.
Drama involves content that usually tells a story of emotions and conflicts experienced by the characters in the play. A play involving drama content usually lacks humor and is less comical than comedy due to its serious nature. Creators of dramatic plays are tasked with ensuring that the content of the play effectively captivates the audience emotionally in order to convey an intended message appropriately. Drama is also incorporated in the theater performances at the New KidZone Theater. Dramatic plays are performed for the children’s audience to educate them on social ethics and morals.
Vaudeville is a type of entertainment most popular in the US. A performance includes comedy, singing, and dance, coupled with magic shows and other entertainment acts. It is an appropriate type of entertainment for children and their families to enjoy. The New KidZone Theater showcases these types of performances for the amusement of children and their families who visit the theater.
Pantomime is a theatrical performance meant for children. It involves musical acts, jokes, and light-hearted acts of comedy. Pantomime is usually based on nursery rhymes, children’s stories, and fairy tales. These performances are usually released around Christmas period.
Actors and actresses employed by the New KidZone theater are well trained professionals that are well aware of how to interact with children. The actors have to be able to perform in a way that children, who are naturally fun loving, would enjoy. They have to be able to bring the script to life in order to capture the children’s attention. KidZone actors and actresses display these qualities, making the theater an ideal model theater for kids.
The production of the various plays is done by creators contracted by the theater. The creators are tasked with making plays in their respective genres that are appropriate for children. After completion, the plays are presented to the chief editor and the best plays are selected. These plays are presented to actors suited to play the parts. The actors and actresses rehearse the scripts over time and can put together the play which they eventually perform for the children audience.
The intended audience is children, though the content offered by the theater is appropriate for the whole family. Families from all cultures and walks of life are encouraged to visit the New KidZone theater to get the ultimate theater experience and allow their children to connect with their peers as they gain experience in the art of performance.
The New KidZone theater is an exquisite platform for children to enjoy the art of performance entertainment, interact with other children, and gain a learning experience of educational relevance. A theater for everyone regardless of their age is a fresh new idea as opposed to the old notion of theaters that are only attended by adults. The first production of the New KidZone Theatre would offer a series of play releases to attract a very large audience with children being a great majority. The acts performed should be child-appropriate so that they are greatly enjoyed by young kids. This would initiate a great start for the theater.