Vanessa Lefrancois of Taunton's Brewhouse Theatre explains why theatre is so good for today's kids
How often do you take your took your kids to the theatre? In my case, not nearly enough but when I do, they always have a whale of a time. Vanessa Lefrancois, Chief Executive of The Brewhouse Theatre & Arts Centre in Taunton, aims to make every child in Taunton-Deane a theatre goer – and here’s why….
Why is a trip to the theatre so special?
Well for a start, it’s a fabulous treat. First, the anticipation, then the experience, followed by the memories that leave an impression long after the curtain has come down. It can be a powerfully bonding experience, creating shared memories to be treasured for years to come.
Unplugging from digital devices, you connect human to human. You can escape and immerse yourself in fantastic stories, identify with diverse characters and see the world through different eyes – all of which helps to develop understanding and empathy.
Theatre transcends time and place, culture and religion, background and class. It’s non-judgemental, beguiling – and fun. One child came out of a show at The Brewhouse telling her school friend ‘That was the best school trip ever!’
Can it be educational?
Highly! Even when it’s downright silly. I bet many youngsters remember historical facts after watching Horrible Histories performances of The Terrible Tudors and so on. It can boost literacy, encourage communication, spark curiosity and lengthen attention spans, too.
But what if my child won’t sit still, makes a noise or doesn’t like it?
But what if it’s the best thing your child has ever experienced? Besides, we in the theatre love their impromptu applause, squeals of delight, bouncing up and down in their seats and funny interruptions. During our Christmas show The Wizard of Oz, the Tinman was calling for help and the Scarecrow told him it was pointless as no one could hear him; a little voice piped up from the audience ‘I can hear you Tinman’. The level of absorption and attention was tangible.
What should we bring the kids to in the next few months?
We’ve got some great shows for younger kids coming up over the next few months:
The Gingerbread Man with puppets and live action on Sat 16 Feb
How to be Brave, stories of brave children on Tues 19 & Weds 20 Feb with an accompanying workshop on Weds 20 Feb
Room on the Broom a musical adaptation of Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler’s famous book Weds 6 – Thurs 7 March
We’re going on a bear hunt on tour from the West End on Fri 10 – Sun 12 May.
Click here for more details on all The Brewhouse’s children’s shows, workshops and the rest of the programme.