Since I always love seeing talented local youngsters put on shows for the local community, I thought it would be nice to write about how “youth productions” enhance the cultural life of our local communities. I know that here in New Hampshire, there are many great schools and children’s theater groups that put on many remarkable shows throughout the year. Don’t forget about the many summer camps that give New Hampshire’s children a chance to learn about theater. All of these outlets and venues help children to discover their artistic potential, all while opening them up to a world that is colorful and bright.
How do children get involved in their local community theater? Well, it all starts with an audition. Some children may be completely untrained; others may have had dance or voice lessons or may even play a musical instrument. Either way, most children will have had some form of experience before they audition for their first show. Depending on where the child lives, the local theatre may be a small community theater in the “sticks” or a bigger professional theater somewhere in a city. Both of these places are very good places to start; in a community theater, you have local people from within the community (i.e. doctors, schoolteachers, librarians, etc.) working with you, so every small town community theater has a truly “small town” feel; on the other hand, in a larger professional theater, children may have the chance to work with “professional” actors, sometimes from New York! I’m not saying that one experience is better than another; both experiences are great for children who want to break into local theater.
Once they do their first play, many children will want to do more theater and they usually do! Children may move around to different theaters in the area, trying out new experiences and meeting new friends. Children may also try out doing all “youth” productions. This is particularly interesting. Whereas regular community theater productions have casts comprised of local children and adults, youth productions, on the other hand, are children’s shows performed by local children. These are often versions of classic fairy tales performed often as musicals, and sometimes as straight plays. Youth productions are fun for the local community to watch; it’s even more fun for children to watch their favorite storybook characters come to life on stage!
Any theatrical experience is fun for a child; children can meet new friends, have fun, and work hard to put on a great show. As for the community, theater is immensely beneficial to the cultural life of any community. Seeing a show is like a lesson in basic values; you learn about humanity at its best and also at its worst; you share the experience with your fellow audience members and revel in the spectacle of it all! This certainly applies to adults as well as children and that is the magic of theater at its best.