The Guardian posted an article about the experience of attending an exciting show with children in the audience. Typically, the idea of a small child in the audience of a play makes me want to slam my head against a tree. This article, however, reminded me that there is a joy that a child experiences that adults allow to slip away. The joy is playing back with the actors. The vocal reactions of a child are immediate and unthought, which makes them genuine and desired. A loud gasps or scream of a child should be celebrated and copied instead of shhed by embarrassed parents.
I believe this applies to teenagers as well. Often, people complain about texting in theaters and teenagers completely uninterested in the play. The real issue with these teens is that their behavior arising insecurity in the theater. They resent the teens, however, deep down there is an awareness that their show is not captivating. To say that the teens are not smart enough to understand the play is an insult to youth and a complete misconception. Adults do tend to show more respect to the plays and give their attention regardless of their feelings on the piece. Teens, however, tell it how it is. I have seem plenty of shows that I am completely certain would hold the captivation of any age. If a play is truly successful, it will rip the audience’s eyes from their phones and keep them hostage until curtain close. If there are tiny blue screens popping up around the audience, the play isn’t doing it’s job. The love and fear of youth is its honesty. For a theater to embrace this entirely will welcome a new relationship to its theater. Children and teens will become the true judges success and fail. That’s sad and scary, but also true.
You could argue that young people might not be as educated on topics addressed in the play, which contributes to a lack of interest. If a person has not been old enough to live an experience, or educated enough to understand the complexity of the script, then they don’t make the best judges. True, but regardless of how layered, honest, and insightful a text is…if it doesn’t make you want to watch and hear it, then it’s a fail. Truthfully, I find the best audiences are the ones ignorant of the subject material. If you are able to grab their attention and fill their minds clearly, or really make them think, about a new topic, then you have won! If a show doesn’t do that, then it has failed in some way. No pressure, though. No show is perfect.
Let’s celebrate our youth and welcome them as judges! Let’s keep them in mind while creating shows. If we our short attention spanned audiences are forever in our minds, there has to be a benefit to the end production.