This presentation examines the forms and styles utilised by artists working with child performers in the theatre and offers a model of practice for contemporary performance makers. Children have had a long and problematised history as performers in the theatre industry. Nicholas Ridout (2006) identifies an unease experienced by audiences when children perform in mainstream performance works. He suggests that ‘anxieties surface regarding exploitation and appropriateness. They are in the wrong place and may ruin the artifice’ through unintended ‘irruptions of the real’ (Lehmann 2006). In contrast, youth companies since the 1980s have deliberately employed expressions of ‘the real’ as a means of ‘engaging in the forms of cultural expression that young people…participate in and allowing them to inform the development of performance languages’ (Myers 2005). This presentation examines the forms and styles employed by artists working with children in a range of contexts from traditional pantomime to Youth Theatre and the post dramatic works of Romeo Castellucci and Gob squad. It examines the boundaries of these categorisations with particular reference to expressions of ‘the real’, to offer insight into acting theory as it relates to the child performer. It proposes a model of practice that harnesses dramaturgical, directorial and design strategies to maintain performer cognitive engagement, motivation and focus, in particular it details the role of an adult provocateur.
2015 Australasian Association for Theatre, Drama and Performance Studies (ADSA) Conference: Revisiting The Player’s Passion: The Science(s) of Acting in 2015, Sydney, Australia 23-26 June 2015