Why theatre for young audiences?

Children at Cradle of Creativity, Baxter Theatre, 2017

ASSITEJ SA believes that every child and young person in our country deserves access to the arts, and especially to live theatre, from the earliest possible age. Theatre is a transformational force in the lives of young people, inspiring imaginations, shifting perceptions, teaching empathy and building our nation.

Some specific reasons for why theatre is so important:

  • Theatre allows us to explore perceptions different from our own. It deepens our capacity for empathy and enhances and develops emotional intelligence, hence providing a powerful platform for behaviour change.
  • Theatre arts enhance learning – they reach a diversity of learners through multiple learning modalities (visual, auditory, tactile, musical and kinesthetic). This helps young people to learn and builds confidence in their capacities.
  • Theatre can make abstract concepts or ideas more concrete and understandable. It communicates in memorable and entertaining ways, bringing complex ideas to life.
  • Theatre arts develop lifelong skills of communication, critical and creative thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, reflection, and perseverance.
  • Theatre can develop appreciation of a child’s own cultural heritage, while also building a sense of commonality and diversity across cultures which can result in deepening tolerance.
  • Arts experiences build specific cognitive, emotional, and psychomotor pathways in brain function; a recent study has shown that if young people are not exposed to arts from an early age, these neural pathways will atrophy, and their development later will be stunted.
  • Theatre helps learners connect to themselves and to one another. It develops their ability to express a personal vision and communicate it, while appreciating, responding to and collaborating with the visions of others.

Deaf and hard of hearing learners after a Warhorse Workshop, 2014


To read more,

  • Why should children see theatre? Go here.
  • How does TYA contribute to peacemaking? Go here.