The Young Audience – Exploring and enhancing children’s experiences of theatre by Matthew Reason (2010)

Reason, M. (2010) ‘Theatre For Children and education’ in The young audience – exploring and enhancing children’s experiences of theatre. Staffordshire: Trentham Books. pp. 3 – 14.



Matthew Reason focuses on children learning and the arts, and the experience. Reason explains that learning is a natural part of a child’s development and it happens instinctively, but there is an attempt by adults to formalise it with systems and schools. It is explained that learning and education carry significance of childhood, as childhood itself became symbolic of development as people.


Reason discusses distinctions between theatre for young audiences (TFYA) and theatre in education (TIE), both are theatre aimed at the same demographic, and both exist within education. Though TIE deals specifically with education and learning, and its relationship with theatre. This may include performance but includes a variety of other aspects, including “workshops, talks, playback and the use of forum theatre” (p. 4). TIE is structurally devised and researched, and are planned events. Education is centralised and is the primary focused. Whereas, TFYA features education but does not contain it as the primary focus.


TIE uses theatre practices to accommodate education in numerous areas, like health, the social, and the personal. The productions used usually raise “awareness of the issues, stimulate empathy and encourage self-reflection and development” (p. 5).

Some issues brought forward by Reason is that the mixture of education and theatre, though education is well facilitated by theatre, it is said that the education aspect sacrifices the theatrical quality. TIE is largely education driven, thus making it difficult to measure how well theatre or art is engaged.


Reason supports the effectiveness of art involved in theatre, by showing that pupils engaged with art perform better academically (p. 8). Using Champion of Change’s report Learning in and Through the Arts, it states that pupils highly involved in art perform better in “creativity, fluency, originality, elaboration and resistance to closure” (p. 8). This shows that art can help push learning – the primary function of TIE. Reason claims that theatre and the art combination creates an enhanced set of skills for children learning in formal and informal areas.

The Young Audience – Exploring and enhancing children’s experiences of theatre by Matthew Reason (2010)

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