Children’s theatre is a world full of the weird and wonderful, brimming with creativity. I believe it’s a section of the industry that is really booming at the moment from small to large-scale. Slowly and surely the industry perception that ‘children’s theatre’ is lesser to ‘grown-ups theatre’ is changing. The press haven’t quite caught up yet, but it’s getting there.
But there’s a bit of a stigma in the world of children’s theatre… it’s three letters: TIE … Theatre in Education. Purely based on my experiences, say the words ‘TIE tour’ and there is a collective sigh. Why is this? Is it because it conjures up the image of shonky sets and knee-slapping? Of dreary issue-based ‘don’t do drugs’ messages? Of people making a quick buck in front of audiences who don’t know any better?
I’m being contentious here because there are brilliant companies going into schools doing wonderful, new and exciting things, but I don’t think that’s what people think when they hear the term TIE. I don’t think there’s enough regular work that reflects the brilliant things happening in the world of children’s theatre. I’ve spoken to teachers who are desperate for quality education-based shows.
TIE is often the only experience children will ever have of live theatre. Ever. Surely this in itself is something incredibly precious and wonderful- something that could forge the love of theatre, show audiences who would never be taken to the theatre that it can be for them. And where else is there a guaranteed audience for your work? It can influence a great number of people- shouldn’t this be a major priority?
Is it because there’s been a drop in quality in TIE? I believe a vicious circle has appeared- the work suffers because there isn’t the creative talent, the creative talent isn’t interested because the work isn’t great. I believe the quality of something relies on the people involved – and with passionate people making new work in schools this circle can be broken.
Next year we’re aiming to bring diverse, quality work into schools on a regular basis (and we have just launched a crowd-funding campaign for this). But we need the passion and support from the industry to make it happen. We need more people to make new work in schools, to enthuse about TIE and to pour talent into it.
You can support Goblin in Schools here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/goblin-in-schools/x/14281677#/
Matt is producer for Goblin. Upcoming shows include Emily Rising by Dan Rebellato at Little Angel Theatre and Penguin! Elephant! on a UK tour. For more information visit www.goblintheatre.co.uk and follow @goblintheatre