Why do we perform in the theatre for young audiences?
20 August, 2020
Last year we were doing a play for high school students based on Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories. Anyone who has ever read his stories can imagine that dramatizing them is not an easy task. We knew it would be an enormous challenge the moment we embarked on the project. Poe is not easy to adapt. He wrote in the more ‘elevated’ and rich English of the XIXth Century romanticism and his stories describe the action in great detail. That description is practically impossible to stage so we knew we would have to appeal to the imagination of the audience to visualize in the minds’ eye the images that the actors evoked with words. In addition, we needed to convey to audiences the suffering, the sheer terror and madness that the characters suffer in Poe’s stories. Because of all this, we didn’t know what reaction to expect from 13 to 16-year-olds who most likely hadn’t read the author nor were in the habit of going to the theatre.
As the play went into repertory, group of students from the city of Toledo, in the outskirts of the capital city of Montevideo, came to see one of our performances. Everything worked wonders and we received a warm round of applause. As usual, the cast talked and posed for pictures with the audience in the foyer after the performance. It is always very rewarding for us to share in the audience’s excitement, but it wasn’t until several hours later that we were thoroughly overjoyed. The teacher in charge of the group messaged me congratulating us and saying that the students were fascinated and impressed by the performance, and that they had urged her to share more Edgar Allan Poe stories and wanted to know more about the author. She ended her message urging us to let her know of new productions.
After 10 years with The Company, these are the stories that fill us with joy. We perform in English so that children can approach the language from another perspective, one that is different from that of their classroom. We want children to have access to classic stories and well-known authors not only because they are fun and engaging, but because these are the pillars of our culture and we firmly believe that the experience will motivate them to carry on learning. The Theatre is Culture; Culture sensitizes human beings and more sensitive human beings make up a society with more tolerance and love. That is why we do what we do.