AN APPROACH TO CHILDREN’S THEATRE THROUGH CREATIVE DRAMATICS
This project titled ‘’Approach to children’s theatre through creative dramatics is about the importance of drama to the life of children.
Chapter one of this project deals with the basic concept of the study. Here, the definition of children theatre, the origin of children’s theatre in Tertiary Institutions, the aims and objectives of children’s theatre and theories on play are discussed.
Chapter two looks at the nature of the child, with particular reference to the personality of the child, Age differences and we adopt dramatic Approach.
Chapter three of this work is on the Approaches to children’s theatre and the Art of creative dramatics.
The last chapter which deals with the role of Adult teacher, or leader in child drama, the essence of Drama in education and the dramatic experiences with young children.
TABLE OF CONTENT
TABLE OF CONTENT
THE BASIC CONCEPT OF THE STUDY
1.1 CHILDREN’S THEATRE PRACTICE
1.3 AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF CHILDREN THEATRE
1.4 THEORIES ON PLAY
THE NATURE OF THE CHILD
2.1 WHO IS A CHILD?
2.2 AG DIFFERENCES
2.3 WHY WE ADOPT DRAMATIC APPROACH
THE PLAY WAY METHOD
3.1 THE APPROACH TO CHILDREN’S THEATRE
3.2 THE ART OF CREATIVE DRAMATICS
4.1 THE ROLE OF ADULT, TEACHER OF LEADER IN CHILD DRAMA
BASIC CONCEPT OF THE STUDY
1.1 CHILDREN’S THEATRE PRACTICE
Children’s theatre practice is a dramatic activity in which young people acquire knowledge and skill through drama.
According to Stanley Obuh’s lesson notes 2000/2001.
‘’children’s Theatre or drama are those categories of plays, performances and related literatures that caters for the interests, instincts, emotional and psychological needs of children’’.
Children theatre is a diluted version of theatre which is prepared mainly for youngsters between the ages of five to twelve years, it can continue also till adult life. In this categories of plays children perform for children, or adult for children to watch. Children’s drama or theatre are meant for children’s cognitive development. When drama is introduced in those formative years, it serves as a foundation for future development.
Education may be formal or informal and in both modes, drama has a part to play. Informal education de-emphasizes the school setting hence it occurs through play. Play acts as an important element for a young child. It is from play that drama takes it’s roots. Through play children develop their physical and mental skills. It is therefore important to note that the instinct to play is inborn in man and so remains well after childhood. Although, most people still hold the view that play is not useful in life but educationist are beginning to appreciate the special advantages of learning and teaching through play way method. Such approaches have been adopted by modern day nursery schools. That means learning is fostered through fun. The playing method is usually explored in dramatic activities. This, through play and drama, children and young people acquires knowledge and skills.
Drama for children however has four major areas:
(1) Creative Dramatics
(2) Children theatre
(3) Recreational theatre
All the four areas have their peculiar methodology.
Creative Dramatics:It is the education of the whole person. It enables the child to acquire such skills for problems solving. It increases awareness, concentration, imaginative impulses and it develops the control of the physical self in creative dramatics, playmaking involves acting out the stories and scenes without a script. Creative dramatics is divided into two different areas:
(A) Internally absorbed learning
(B) Externally absorbed learning
Creative dramatics is a non-performing theatre, that is to say, the audience is non-existence.
Finally, creative dramatics is highly recommended for the classroom situation.
RECREATIONAL THEATRE:This involves theatre by children for an audience of children or children and adult. Note that the performers here are mainly the children. A good example of this are such dramatic activities put together by the teachers of the University Demonstration primary school (U.D.P.s) university of Port Harcourt, to mark their end of year activities. The teachers prepares the children to entertain themselves as well as their teachers and the parents are usually invited.
EDUCATIONAL DRAMA: It is also known as curricular drama. It is designed around an educational institution. Educational drama has two dimensions:
(a) Drama as a method
(b) Drama as a curricular subject or discipline.
Drama as a method has to do with the use of drama as a method to stimulate education or knowledge. While drama as a curricular subject or discipline is a drama considered as a discipline on its own and not as a means to an end. That is to say, drama treated as a curricular subject with its own academic content.
Children’s Theatre: This is basically a theatre for children where the child’s interest is upper most. It is an organised theatre in which adults or adults and children perform for children before an audience of children. Again, it is not impromptu, there has to be a script, learnt through rehearsals and also under the supervision of a teacher or leader/director. Children’s theatre is highly technical and as such trains the mind of a child over group instinct, trust and confidence in others. It is structured in such a way that it combines play with intellectual work. It also acts as a shorthand in teaching process there by passing information with a reduced hardship.
Here language usage is made simple because it is designed for the consumption of the child only, although audience may be permitted but the target is the child. Through this programme a child is more enlightened and liberated from extreme primitively.
The beginning of children’s Theatre in Tertiary Institutions started in University of Ibadan in 1962. The name that was given to it was Saturday Theatre for Young people. It was conceived and designed as a workshop for the children’s participants. The children that participated in the S T Y P were between the ages of six and ten years, and they are campus and neighbourhood children. They came on Saturday morning under the direction of a staff member.
The purpose of S T Y P was to raise money for the handicaps or disables. Secondly to provide education for young people. The children takes part in all sorts and varieties of artistic and creative activities, creative dramatics story teaching, playmaking, music, song, dance, drama poetry, mine and movement. The children also had fun with arts and crafts drawing, painting, modelling and puppetry. All these are down in a free and informal classroom situation in order to achieve an uninhibited free expression. The goal is to help children develop creative self-expression, creative imagination and to inculcate in the child artistic insight and appreciation.
The Saturday Theatre for Young people created a forum for meeting children, parents and staffs of the University. Through it the image of children’s theatre was projected to other parents of the world and institutions.
S.T.Y.P CONSTRIBUTION TO CHILDREN
For the children, the STYP is both educational and a developmental process. The value to children exposed to it are many and tremendous. They include:
i) Socialization and development of personal resources and talents.
ii) Inculcation and development of creativity in the cultural and creative arts – development of skills of communication and self-expression.
iii) Development of social awareness and the social of social responsibility.
iv) Exposure to and opportunity of international experience and friendship
1.3 AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF CHILDREN’S THEATRE
The theatre happens to be one of the most powerful and direct means of strengthening human reason and enlightening the nation. By extension, children’s drama/theatre serves as an educational instrument for children’s upbringing. The ultimate aim is to inculcate in the child, the habit of play-consumption, construction and appreciation from early childhood. If this is achieved, the theatre will then have a responsive and responsible adult audience in the future.
The theatre places children in a condition in which they can recall and interpret past experiences and apply them to present realities. Essentially, early children’s theatre experiences or experiments in at creating the necessary awareness that would enable them to understand the true potentials of the theatre. When the necessary awareness is created during these formative years, then one can claim that the foundation for sustainable growth has been laid, thereby reducing the prejudices and scepticism which often stifle theatre development.
Drama has power and can positively influence children. In recognition of the positive effects of drama, S. C. Evernden (1977) explain that
‘’in areas and schools where drama has had a fair trial, it has in fact helped children to become articulate and self-reliant, move at peace with themselves and better adjusted to society’’ (Unpaged forward to Permberton, Billing and S.D. Clegg’s book Teaching Drama 1977).
Children by nature are initiative and playful and they learn a lot through play and imitation at home and elsewhere. There, they assume the roles of parents, teacher, leaders etc.
The theatre serves as an avenue for the actualization of the and playful tendencies. It has also been established that children assimilate more through drama than formal method of teaching, because the dramatic approach is more concrete, immediate, economical and has a way of arresting the five senses (touch, smell, taste, hearing and sight). Drama also exposes children to such values as honesty, hard work, and respect for elders, obedience, self-discipline and allegiance to societal norms.
Children’s theatre aims at developing the young ones physically, intellectually, psychologically, emotionally and culturally. These noble ideals are achieved by installing confidence, discipline and respect in the younger ones. The theatre also helps to increase children’s vocabulary and gives them self-confidence and improves their self-expression.
1.4 THEORIES RELATED TO CHILDREN’S DRAMA
A theory simply means those discoveries of findings tested, experimented and generally acceptable by those of a similar profession or ideology. The theoretical postulation of philosophers such as plato, Aristotle, Moreno, Sigmund, Freud, John Dewey, and Jean piaget about drama and education will be examined in this work.
Plato the Greek philosopher is of the view that education should begin early in a child’s life in a playful manner without any air of constraints. He rejected the idea of theatre for children, arguing that the imitative nature of drama will compel children to imitate bad characters. Plato also conceived of imitation as ‘’copying’’ where as Aristotle says it is creativity. Apart from the clash in ideas between the two, they both support the use of drama as a method of fostering child development.
Aristotle added that the theatre does not imitate realities as such but abstract ideas. According to Aristotle, imitation is a natural tendency of man. That is to say it is inherent from children. He further sees imitation as a key factor in drama. Jean Piaget a French-Swiss psychologist in his Assimilation and Accommodation theory(Richard Courtney 1968 page 260) also acknowledges the significant of play in the assimilated the model role through play now imitates it’s parts. Another theorist to discuss is Sigmund Freud a psycho-analyst who stresses the importance of infancy as the formative period for developing human personality (Courtney 1968 page 65). To him, play and games assists the child in his adjustment to himself, others and his environments. He recognised two instincts which are self-preservation and the preservation of the species.
Dr. J.L. Moreno’s ideas of imitation and play are also worthy of consideration. Moreno and Aristotle have divergent views on imitation and drama. While Aristotle sees drama as an imitation of life, Moreno takes it to be an extension of life. (Courtney 1968 page 96). Moreno says that we are all actors from birth. The art of play helps the child in both his social and formal learning. Socially, the child improvises situations that occurs in everyday life, while the formal one takes care of school subjects.
What really brought the philosophers and theorists of education and drama together is their agreement on the importance of drama in children’s life. They all stresses the significance of children’s play and affirm that drama involves the child in interaction with others and his environment. All the theorists expressed the view that drama should be introduced early in a child’s life so as to equip him with a sound physical, intellectual, emotional and moral training for his future sustenance and growth.
END OF NOTES
1) Obur SOS (2000/20001); Lesson Note for children’s Theatre in Education.
2) Jukie Umukoro (1999): Lesson Note for Children’s Theatre in Educaton
4) Awake Magazine (May 22, 1987): published by Watch Tower Bible Society of New York in p. 57.
5) S.D Clargy (1977): Teaching Drama. Unpaged forward to Permberton.
6) Courtney, Richard (1960): Teaching Drama London Casell and Company.
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