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Look At Childrens Theatre English Literature Essay

One of the primary ways that children could learn about life is Childrens theatre. It can learn to them about actions and consequences, customs and belief, as well as recognized difference between others and themselves. By the help of theatre, they learn about their social communities.

For instance, children use pretend play as a means of making sense of the world; they create situations to play and assume roles; they interact with peers and arrange environments to bring their stories to life; they direct one another to bring order to their drama, and they respond to one another's dramas. In other words, children arrive at school with rudimentary skills as playwrights, actors, designers, directors, and audience members; theatre education should build on this solid foundation. These standards assume that theatre education will start with and have a strong emphasis on improvisation, which is the basis of social pretend play. [1] 

The term ‘children’s theatre’ refers to a play, which is perform for children’s audiences, and the goal of this theatre can be to transfer the best possible theatrical experience to the audience. That may acted by professionals or amateurs, adults or children also combination of both.

Dialogues should memorized, costumes and scenery are important parts of play. Thus, the performers employed all of the techniques and principles of theatre for achieve these aims to the end.

History of Children’s Theatre

The twentieth century certainly provides a wide range of understanding and facility of the child’s world, which leads the organized life than did in past.

Although the progress of children's theatre has been less widely publicized than the forward steps of other agencies concerned with young people, the growth of the movement has paralleled the acceptance of new concepts regarding children. [2] 

This chapter is an attempt to the position of children’s theatre in the world.

A Brief Historical Survey of World’s Children’s Theatre

Children’s theatre in the recent century stood up on psychological and child’s development studies. These researches help improvement children’s theatrical activity to achieve the goals that were not considered before. By examine the history children’s performance, could be see at least since ancient Greece.

In that time, popular theatre has attracted to young people as playgoers from. Even earlier, children had participated as performers in Egyptian ceremonies, young girls as dancers and boys as acrobats, while others watched at the festivals and celebrations that in design and execution took on an undeniably theatrical look. Much the same pattern of development maybe witnessed in the growth of children, since they too, pass through similar stages in their personal uses of play. [3] 

Children were the important but often silent characters part of both tragedy and comedy plays in the ancient Greece. In that time, the whole family could see the theatre together. Thus, children attended freely to theatre as part of family. ‘Orchesis’ is a Greece word, meaning a moving ensemble. It was including dance, poetry, music and movement. The performance was ‘held an important place in child’s upbringing’. Participation of children in ‘Orchesis’ was to perform ‘scenes of the odyssey or the Iliad’. In addition it is notable there was no ‘systematic effort’ to prepare theatre especially for children.

Children’s world discovered after twentieth century by new achievement in psychology. However, senses of performances for young spectators grow after these progresses. Then progressive movements on this stream start between nations. It seems today children’s theatre grown concomitantly in most part of the world.

The children’s theatre is a worldwide movement of this century, and not only a national one, which means that much of the world there has a risen a belief in the usefulness of the arts in shaping the child development. [4] 

Russia could be mention as first country that the children’s performance grew under social-political reforms. In following one of reformation result, was the progressive education movement. Pestalozzi and John Dewey had an impetus role also to this awareness.

Pestalozzi and John Dewey are Rousseau’s educational philosophy inspired ensuing pedagogues, notably Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi (1746–1827), who refined Rousseau’s thoughts by developing a method of holistic education, which addressed head, heart, and hands. These three elements are inseparable from each other in Pestalozzi’s. [5] 

Pestalozzi also founded several educational institutions and wrote many works explaining his revolutionary modern principles of education. He has a philosophic motto, ‘Learning by head, hand and heart’ which is obviously a key principle in successful twenty first century schools. New opinion followed in Russia after the October Revolution in 1917, by Commissar of Education Anatoly Lunacharsky (1875-1933) who proposed to start a theater for the children and the Moscow Art Theatre’s director Konstantin Stanislavsky (1863-1938) recommended Natalya Sats (1903-1993). She had 15 old years when directed the world’s first theater for children opened on October 4, 1918.

In U.S.A, also the children’s theatre theory fallowed by American writer Mark Twain (1871-1935) who is most noted for his children books such as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), and its sequel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), the latter often called ‘The Great American Novel’. According to the book ‘Theatre for Children’ by David Wood , who is an English actor and writer, which called ‘The National Children's Dramatist’ by The Time , wrote:

Mark Twain voiced his belief that 'children's theatre is one of the very, very great inventions of the twentieth century" he could not foresee what subsequent decades would achieve. The twentieth century has been a growing interest as an art form, and since the sixties, more and more practitioners have dedicated themselves to it. [6] 

Adults’ theatres were active in the middle of the nineteenth century. Young people might have seen an occasional adult play based on such stories, which now consider which now considered suitable for the child audience. For instance, in 1828 performed a production of Rip Van Winkle, which is a short story by the American author Washington Irving.

Other example is Joseph Jefferson an American actor ,in 1865 did play his version of the same story in a series of performances, during almost half a century, ‘But probably these offerings were not planned exclusively for the delight and edification of children’. Moses Goldberg who is degree on Child Psychology from Stanford University, playwright, university educator, artistic and producing director, mentor and stage director says:

If the Christmas pantomime is included in the category of children’s theatre, then the tradition of performances for young audiences in England dates as far back as the early eighteenth century, which companies of boys performed for adult in Shakespeare’s days, the tradition of performances for young audiences. [7] 

Beginning of Children’s Theatre

Russia may called the commencer of children’s theatre movement but also U.S.A and Europe followed early. exclusively activities for children starts in Russia by in young director Natalya Sats but before can find the second theatre production of Stanislavski at Moscow, ‘The Blue Bird’ a play interest to children. However, the play has philosophic theme but simple story line that can delight children. Natalya Sats starts her method, which performed by adult professional theatre for the children .in following similar groups were established in Europe and USA, in the years between the two world wars.

Natalya Sats is known as a ‘The Mother of all Theaters in The World’ because she devoted her life to children's theatre. Sats was a producer, director and pioneered a combination of dance, music, drama, acrobatics and multimedia, known as ‘synthesized theater’. [8] She experiments the plays, which were according to the doctrine of socialist realism, would explain the world to young people. Sats developed the educational goals of the theatre. Sats’s method and works became a pattern for children’s theatre stream throughout the Socialist world.

It is important to point out that whereas in the United States the origins of children’s theatre sprang from the social and educational needs of communities of immigrants, in Russia the Soviet government acknowledged the power of the theatre to educate and directly supported children’s theatre as an educational enterprise. The government placed a great deal of emphasis on how to develop a quality of education that would best serve the regime. In all of the socialist countries, the children’s theatre was considered an important and effective tool for education and the soviet government supported them all. Her ‘Mossovet Theatre Troupe’ staged its first performance for kids, ‘David’, in 1918, and successfully toured Petrograd, Saratov, and Moscow. [9] 

In the United States, the children’s theatre it began to grow as a efficient branch of theatre in early 1900. Mark Twain conviction which discussed before was based on a visit to the ‘Children's Educational Theatre, in New York city which established in 1903 among the Russian-Jewish immigrants for originally an educational and social enterprise rather than the theatrical purposes. There was the first American theatre planed especially for young and children. The theatre intended to help youth immigrant to improve their English by suitable plays. The center also provided an introduction the American social behavior for many of the participants. The theatre project is the earliest attempt for children’s theatre, in the social- educational centers. According to Goldberg:

The first children’s theatre in the United States was the Children's Educational Theatre, founded in 1903 by Alice Minnie Hertin in New York.’ [10] ‘Her work was conceived as a recreational project Miss Herts was impelled to maintain a democratic program in which children alternately performed in the plays and worked backstage. In addition, the theatre project became as the pattern and appear in expanding recreation programs in several parts of the around nation. [11] 

There were sporadic activities also during those years. Stuart Walker was an American film producer and director. He conceived a production plan for children which whereby the whole settings, lights and costumes could be packed into a few box walling and traveled anywhere across the country. Finally Established children's theatre programs, cannot most accurately trace to an enterprise like which began in 1903 among the Russian-Jewish immigrants.

Latter commercial theatres began to appear by performing suitable plays for child audiences in New York and thousands of children had been avidity seen the plays; ‘Peter Pan’, ‘The Blue Bird’, ‘Little Women’, ‘Snow White’, ‘The Seven Dwarfs’, ‘Racketty Packetty House’, ‘Alice in Wonderland’, and ‘Treasure Island’. During decade of the 1920, children’s theatre was development in United States. In the 1921, the Chicago League inaugurated by ‘Association of Junior Leagues of America’. The Theatre produced ‘Alice in Wonderland’, by employed professional production staff under managements of Annette Washburn and Alice Gerstenberg. Chicago League continued its activities in succeeding years, on stage of ‘Fine Arts Building’.

In England, the real beginning of attention to children’s theatre was around 1914 with Jean Sterling MacKinlay (1882-1958). He tried substitute pantomime, which was a part of Christmas season plays as season of children’s plays, for duration six weeks over Christmas from 1914 to 1939. Ben Greet (1857- 1936) was a Shakespearean actor, director, and impresario. His company performed Shakespeare in 1918 for the London schools. The next attempt done by English School Theatre (partly educational), which was founded in 1936 but during the Second World War it closed. After the War in 1967 Unicorn Theatre for Children, established at the Arts Theatre, London. However originating as a touring group was establish in 1947 by Caryl Jenner (1917-1973) who ran the project until her death. The group performed for both adults and children.in following other foundation existed during next years. Theatre Centre (formerly the London Children's Theatre), founded in 1954, the Little Angel Marionette Theatre in Islington, founded in 1961 and the Polka Children’s Theatre in Wimbledon, founded in 1979. [12] 

In 1946 the East German government which occupied after World War II and became under Soviet occupation zone, ordered to establish children’s theatre which was first professional theatre for children and young people. A theatre also was started in Leipzic at the same time. In 1950, Ilse Rodenberg founded central children’s theatre in East Berlin, where she worked as actress, cabaret artist and theater director. The building granted by Soviet army under name of ‘Berlin Theater’ and called ‘Friendship Theatre’. Their plays were theatrical with extremely well-acted and thoroughly to developing socialistic ideals.

However, in other countries such as Russia and U.S theatre for children and young audiences has been respected and an integral part of performing arts. It is not possible to describe in one chapter every national theatre, because there are a variety of patterns in the other nations around the world. It is difficult to make any overview accurate, which can show a clear picture.

Study on effective roots before establishment of children theatre in Iran

History of children’s theatre in Iran is not clear. The beginning of this theatre’s stream is not recorded in any medium. There are different opinions about the origins and development of children’s theater in Iran. One major opinion express; the children’s theatre came to Iran in 18th century as part of the western theatre, which influenced the traditional theatre and drama. They believe children’s theatre was an imported theatre form, which was a part of westerly achievements, so had not a native origin. In addition the opinion, indicate those plays which performed by youth in early years of 19th century, were written for adults only , but the plays had an ability to be performed by youth as children’s play for children audience . Therefore, children’s theatre not starts by an independence feature.

Some other scholars believe that children’s theatre in Iran started much before its modernization. Mohammad Reza Yousefi expressed: the children’s literature has ancient roots in Iran. Yousefi’s work of Children’s Literature, and has written more than 150 books. His main activity is in the field of literature and children’s movies. However, letters, plays and theoretical debates about children’s literature is his skill. He cited an example of ‘Assurik Tree’, which is one of the oldest, pieces of literature from pre-Islamic Iran. ‘Assurik Tree’ is narrates and dialogue between a tree and a goat, each boasting about himself and threatening the other.

Tree boasts:

‘I am superior to thee as many regards.

Because the kings eat of me when I bear first fruits.

I am the plank for boats; I am the mast for sails.

Goat boasts:

Then once more I am superior to thee, the Assuric tree.

I am milk and cheese, further, pastries and curds.

They dry my buttermilk for palaces.’ [13] 

It can assume that things, the goat is boasting about should have taken as having higher values in the society and the culture of that era. Yousefi believes those kinds of books wrote specially for children and most of the written sources are lost and what remains is the narrative and oral sources. After the Arab invasion in 7th century and a transformation of the ‘Persian language’, many dialects evolved. The folk tales of ancient Iran existed only as story concepts told by the elders to their children. [14] 

Yousefi was born in 1953 at Hamedan (It is the capital city of Hamedan Province of Iran). Over 30 years he has written books for children of different age groups. His first book published in 1978 was called ‘Sal Tahvil Shod’ (The Beginning of the New Year). Yousefi graduated from the college course on Literature and Human Sciences of the ‘Tehran University’, is working for children rewriting ancient Persian literature. His well-known works

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