Over at Kids and Theatre: Writing Plays for Youth, and here at Examiner.com, Claudia Haas talks about writing for young performers (TYP) which is not the same as writing Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA).
“The majority of these plays are meant to performed by adult actors for children. There is next to nothing in developing plays for young performers.”
I agree with this sentiment wholeheartedly. TYP plays need to be workshopped and developed with the age of actor who will eventually perform the roles. What’s the point in having adult actors develop plays meant for young actors? I stopped workshopping my plays with professionals when I came to that realization – it doesn’t matter if the pros can do it, can a classroom of 15 year olds?
It’s interesting in our submissions to see the difference between playwrights who write TYP and TYA… and those who don’t know the difference. We received a play at Theatrefolk a while ago that was very well written. And yes there were teenaged characters. But by no means was this play suitable for teenaged performers.
We’ve also received plays from playwrights who say they’ve read our guidelines and then submit something that is so inappropriate content wise, you know they have no idea what it means to write for the youth performer.
Some might say – well what IS the difference? They’re exactly the same! Audience, performer, who cares? The difference is between a professional playing young, and a teenager being in a play. And like it or not, there are some emotions, some life experiences, that just aren’t appropriate for the 16 year old actor. There’s a difference between watching that emotion, that life experience, and being told to act it. And yes, I know, I know, I know. Bad things happen to teenagers. There are teenagers who are wise beyond their years, and live lives beyond their years. These teenagers don’t, for the most part, end up in the school play, nor do they have the experience to separate the action from the acting.
I love writing for this specific market, and I acknowledge, as Claudia does, how important theatre can be in the development of a child/teenager. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, when youth is exposed to theatre it can be a life altering experience. If only others could see it too…..