A performance for Theatre In Education is different to how actors would usually perform on stage. Whilst performing on stage will require mainly looking at the other actor when interacting with other people on stage, a T.I.E piece will heavily focus on performing to the young audience, whilst occasionally looking at the other actors on stage. We haven’t had much work on this incredibly important aspect on performing to a Key Stage 1 audience, therefore, this session with Lynn will focus on how to perform to a young audience.
The importance of performing out to the audience has been briefly mentioned, this is because young children can feel as if they are not involved. If they feel like that, then they will begin to switch off and stop paying attention to the piece. If they are not listening to the piece, then they will not learn anything, defeating the objective of what Theatre In Education is about. We need to include them and let them know we are including them, they do not know the rules of this type of theatre so they won’t respond if we don’t involve them. To do this, we must invite them, share any conversation with them, as well as addressing them, for our piece this will be at the beginning when Jack as Peter Pan talks to them and asks them questions. He will talk to them again after the first scene, with Lou as Olivia doing the same after her scene with the bears. However, although we have to include them, it is important that we don’t patronise them, this will again ensure that the children stop listening to the piece as they will become unsettled.
As they do not know the rules of theatre yet, we can also manipulate them with things that are not there, however, if we point them out in a direction and create a small movement, they will look over and imaging it is there. For example, with the jelly butterfly, Lou can point to it and move her hand to signal that it is moving.
Because we will be involving our piece with the students and speaking to them, we will have a ‘close’ performance. We were talking about previous performances which were ‘close’ and ‘distant’, for example, I was in the farce ‘A Flea In Her Ear’ in January 2016, where we would turn our heads and notice the audience. However, when previously performing to young audiences in schools, such as our productions of ‘The Golden Goose’ and ‘The Little Pine Tree’, we didn’t involve them, making the piece distant to the audience. This will therefore be different to the last time we performed in a primary school.
Because we have to involve the audience, the main thing I learned in this session was that although the main thing they will learn is our English learning objective, we will also be teaching them how to engage and listen. We all therefore, have a responsibility to speak outwards whenever possible, something that we put into practice. I performed the third scene in ‘Olivia and the Disappearing Stories’ with Lou, where the mother, Imogen is explaining why reading is so important. This is a key scene in helping with our learning objective, so it is vital that our audience is engaged, this will be my responsibility during the piece.
As I practiced this scene, Lynn would stop me whenever she felt there was a scene that should be out to the audience. It made me realise that most of my lines will be out the audience during this scene, going back to Lou towards the end. I underlined the lines which I feel should be spoken out to the audience to help get the message across, this can then allow eye contact when addressing them to really connect. One thing I must remember though is to involve everyone, not just the children in the middle, I must turn out and look at everyone. Whilst performing, along with eye contact, we also have to speaks slow and clear, something that we have already taken into consideration, connecting with the audience is necessary but will not matter if they can’t understand what we are saying. One tip I received from Lynn was that when addressing them, start looking from the opposite side, then look around to then get to Lou.
In conclusion, being able to put these tips into practice made me realise just how much I will have to look at the audience. I knew I had to look out, but now I realise that it will be almost constant, especially with lines that we need the audience to remember and learn in relation to the objective. I can now take these tips forward and put them into practice during rehearsals.