Sunday, May 29, 2011

Theatre and young people

After my rants that Sydney theatre is too prone to sensationalism for it own sake, blokey, and about bodily fluids, I’ve been talking to a local playwright. She works with young theatre groups and tells me that young people (aged say 13 -25) only want to be involved in theatre about sex, drugs and violence. The swearing (theirs, not mine) is assumed. A dance teacher I know says the same thing.

As someone who is training to teach drama to teenagers, this gives me pause.

Will I be able to engage young people in theatre without incorporating sex, drugs and violence? Should I just accept it as a developmental phase and go with it? Or can I steer young theatre practitioners in another direction? Why is it that we protect our primary school aged kids so fiercely, then when they turn 15 they can access all the M15+ material they can get their hands on. It is all Red Bull, sex, drugs, language and violence. The material they cover in class encourages it. Yes, they need to engage with adult concepts sometime, but will they also love the classics? Maybe classics with adult themes? Maybe classics with drugs, sex, violence and swearing? Hello Shakespeare! Hello Tennessee Williams!

I do remember what it was like to be seventeen, and thinking that I knew everything, and that I was an adult, and the old people didn’t understand.

Now I’m one of those old people. I find myself thinking, ‘why can’t the young people just talk nicely to each?’

But hey. STC made a profit last year, so maybe I just need to get with the programme. We can do sex, drugs and violence, but in a nice way.

No comments: