Tony Graham on theatre for young people & families

Tony Graham, former Artistic Director of The Unicorn and TAG (Scottish Theatre in Education), is currently curating October Festival of theatre for Children and Young People taking place 19 – 31 October at Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre.  The Festival marks the 50th Anniversary of Theatre in Education at the Belgrade. Here Tony reflects on how the programme has developed, how it has influenced the creation work for young people, and  how it is now ensuring that the performing arts are accessible and appealing to a family audience.

Once upon a time, Theatre In Education was principally aimed at younger audiences. Today, the legacy of TIE has spread across work for adults, families and communities. The Belgrade programme reflects this shift. Many of the shows will appeal to families. That’s the trouble with labels like TIE and ‘Children’s Theatre‘. They can be misleading. Nowadays, everyone from the Royal Shakespeare Company to the National Theatre to the commercial companies to the avant-garde is making work aimed at this burgeoning market – and not just at Christmas. Equally, the roots of fashionable site-specific theatre and immersive theatre can be found in the style and approach of TIE. Theatre for communities, prisons, senior citizens, minority cultures and families – what is known as ‘applied theatre‘ – can be traced back to TIE. The legacy of TIE today is that it can work with any audience anywhere. As in other art-forms, the boundaries are breaking down.

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16 October 2015