This trimester third-year theatre students from Victoria University of Wellington are discovering what it takes to create effective children’s theatre. Under the tutelage of Wellington director Kerryn Palmer, known for her work at Capital E, BATS and Circa Theatre, the students of the THEA 311 ‘Collaborative Production’ course are devising two children’s theatre shows together: Moonlight, for ages 4-8, is about a young girl overcoming her fear of the dark, and In The Attic, for ages 8+, is an adventure tale about three friends tumbling into a weird and wonderful new world.
The devising process for Moonlight and In The Attic has involved going into Wellington primary schools, where the students presented their work and ideas to the children, and the children gave feedback on the shows at different stages of the devising process.
“The children’s feedback became the core inspiration for the shows,” says student Terri Cochrane, “The experience overall has been one of experiment, relating children to theatre, and theatre to children.”
Inspired by theatre makers such as Wellington’s Trick of the Light (themselves graduates of Victoria’s Theatre Programme) and Australia’s Patch Theatre, the students aspire to create quality theatre for children, to be enjoyed by children and adults alike. The project is part of Palmer’s PhD research into the state of theatre for young audiences in New Zealand, which focuses on how the industry can support practitioners to create more engaging and inspiring theatre works that respect and value children.
“There seems to still be an attitude in New Zealand that Theatre for Young Audiences is merely a ‘filler’ for a theatre company, a money spinner, or something actors may dabble in before they get a ‘real’ job,” says Palmer. “My aspiration with this research is to highlight ethical and effective practices, so that New Zealand children can experience consistently high-quality theatre encounters.”
What: Two plays for children: Moonlight (4-8 years) and In The Attic (8+ years), directed by Kerryn Palmer. Devised and performed by the students of THEA 311.
When: Wednesday 11 – Saturday 14 October 2017. Morning, afternoon and evening shows. Please check Eventfinda for a full list of specific times.
Where: Studio 77, 77 Fairlie Terrace, Kelburn
Bookings: Eventfinda.co.nz, search “Moonlight” or “In The Attic”
In the Attic
Three friends, a dusty attic and an old cardboard box…What could possibly go wrong? When Sam, Alex and Bea fall through a mysterious portal, they find themselves in the absurd world of Owt, where “two is better than one”. On their quest to get back home, they are drawn deeper into this weird and wonderful world. But when the rules of Owt put one of them in danger, their true strength is put to the test. In the Attic is a 45-minute romp into the world of imagination, aimed at 8 years old and over.
The dark can be a scary place. When Luna’s night-light goes out during a ferocious storm, she must embark on an adventure to conquer her fear of the dark. On the way she makes new friends and faces challenging obstacles, finding that “when the lights go out, imagination lights the way.” Moonlight is a 45-minute visual spectacle, aimed at 4 to 8 year olds.