The programme was a co-production, comprising films made for television by national channels in European Broadcasting Union EBU member countries. In the context of this emphasis on agency, broadening experience and developing talent, the different circumstances of childhood in other nations and cultures were another challenge that could be explored and overcome. Then a boy from Yorkshire swapped with a Tunisian boy, then a boy from Aberdeen in Scotland exchanged with a boy from Holland.
In the final two episodes of the series, a girl from a Suffolk village swapped with a Bavarian girl, then a girl from Bath exchanged with a girl from Salt Lake City in the USA. Children from rural areas swapped lives with village children from another country. The ages of the children were similar in each case, so that their experience of the school systems of each country could also be compared. If You Were Me was conceptually linked to the concept of Town Twinning, on which school exchange schemes and pen-friend relationships between children were often built.
Twinning had been set up in after the Second World War to foster friendship and understanding between former enemies, and to encourage trade and tourism. It was a high-profile means to create European identity by acknowledging and repudiating national conflicts, featuring twinning between cities devastated by war like Coventry in the UK, Dresden in Germany and Stalingrad in the USSR, for example.
The institutional structure underpinning the programme was the EBU, whose unstated ideology regarding childhood was influenced by West European concepts of public service, supporting programme-making for children and programmes for adults that encouraged pro-social values and developmental goals as well as entertainment. But it was only in such contexts affected by this quasi-pedagogical, public service ideology that this approach to childhood prevailed.
The British team co-produced one-off, half-hour long films with foreign programme-makers, who shot film abroad and then dubbed it with English voice-over. Children to Children was made in the same way, but with the theme of childhood linking the films.
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The children studied the town from the perspectives of each curriculum subject, through geography, history, mathematics and poetry, for example. The unusual methods she used were versions of topic-based group work and experiential learning that were not unusual in Montessori education, for example, and were already infusing teaching in British state education.
But the diversity of the films it comprised implicitly undercut its comparative project, despite being politically and aesthetically adventurous. The TV Times highlighted its aesthetic qualities, and the relationship between a supposed childhood unconscious and the material conditions affecting children:. Beautiful photography combined with a penetrating script bring an uncanny reality to the inside minds of children. If the viewer becomes lulled into a sense of security by what seems pleasant on the face of things, this may be shattered into the reality of modern day living when the subconscious mind of a child is revealed.
The film adopts a politics of the unconscious and of childhood reminiscent of the versions of Freudianism adopted around by figures such as R. Laing, and links this to a political drive for social and political change. The film had no spoken commentary, but original background music instead. Like other film-makers of the Polish School of Documentary, she sought opportunities to break away from observational style, and the adoption of the structural motif of a montage referencing a photograph album seems calculated to oppose the linear narrative expected of socialist realism.
The focus on childhood enabled formal experimentation, and a degree of political resistance made possible because the programme appeared not to confront Polish domestic politics directly. It focused on five students in a suburban New York progressive school, who were shown using recently available home video camera and recorder technology to make personal documentary features about black consciousness-raising, war and peace, drug use and immigration.
In this fifth episode of Children to Children , Tosheva gathered ten boys and girls aged between three and seven, who had never met before, and their parents.
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Childhood can be identified, investigated and evaluated by television, but it is not universal and television represents national and local difference in how childhoods can be lived and shown. Because there are differences between kinds of childhood lived both in familiar British contexts and in overseas ones, television representation implicitly recognizes some resistance in childhood to the project of satisfactorily documenting it. The programmes are not especially politically controversial or formally innovative, and in them television acts as a conservative medium, whose institutional form, national scale and industrial organisation made it prone to be ideologically mainstream.
But on the other hand, British television offered some opportunities for transnational comparative representations, and institutional networks of collaboration with foreign programme-makers with interests in childhood. The powerful and accepted concept of Public Service Broadcasting required British channels to give viewers access to a diverse range of events, people, aesthetic forms and ideas that would inevitably be challenging and controversial sometimes.
In the s, the provision of television was limited; there were two channels operated by BBC and one by the commercial ITV network. But programming hours and audience sizes had massively expanded, offering opportunities for experimentation and scope for provision of educational programmes aimed at both children and adults.
The only way of expressing emotion in the form of art is by finding an 'objective correlative'; in other words, a set of objects, a situation, a chain of events which shall be the formula of that particular emotion; such that when the external facts, which must terminate in sensory experience, are given, the emotion is immediately evoked [ 8 ]. Analyzing in this regard, it is one of the significant benefits of theatre for children that it provides a medium, rather the theatre itself turns as medium for the children to learn things in easiest manner.
- Wissensmanagement: Der Einfluß Peter M. Senges (German Edition).
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- Origine du nom de famille PIERRARD (Oeuvres courtes) (French Edition).
Vygotsky [ 9 ] and Rinaldi [ 10 ] are of the opinion that it is the interactive nature of theatre that makes it central in the learning process. They look forward to theatre in education in a social constructivist perspective view of learning where children are not seen as empty vessels to be filled but as active recipients or co-constructors of meaning with others.
One of the reason for the theatre to turn out as an appropriate medium for the children in their learning process is the element of freedom that it provides to the children to imagine. To understand any concept, theory or whatever it may be, a person cannot reach to its kernel level until and unless the person develops his faculty of imagination. Imagining the idea in their own way and giving a form and shape to those ideas in their own imagination makes learning more effective and enjoyable.
Another significant advantage that the children benefit out of theatre is the possibility for physical and mental activities. Learning must always be a practical endeavor and passive learning works less especially when it comes to language learning. Learners must involve in the learning process and they should arrive at an emotional state where they should forget the fact that they are doing the activities for a specific purpose rather they are doing it out of their own interest. If such a kind of involvement happens from the part of children, then learning becomes never a tiresome difficult process rather a delightful exercise.
There is no replacement for theatre in this regard for the children to derive such a pleasure in their learning process. Thus the benefits of theatre for children in their learning are myriad. Turner et al. According to them, theatre enable children to develop their emotional sensitivity, responses and vocabulary through the aesthetic learning, literacy skills then to develop in turn through emotional learning. It also helps children in gaining self-esteem and self-confidence, which are commonly taught to be key factors enabling children to engage with and succeed in school work [ 13 ].
Both in East and West the representations of children in theatrical activities were much common. While analyzing the history of Western theatre, Konesko [ 1 ] is of the opinion that, children have appeared in Western drama in every ages right from the ancient Greek stories of Oedipus and Medea through Christ and marry in mystery plays during medieval period up to the modern period [ 1 ]. The English theatre during sixteenth and seventeenth century where the plays of Shakespeare were in much vogue, employed children as the performers especially to carry out the roles of female characters.
Views on the Concept of Childhood and its Representation on Childrens Theatre: A Brief Analysis
One of the reasons for it is the absence of female artists to take over the roles of female characters. Children were selected for these roles mostly for their sound texture that resembles the sound of females. Some, however, die or otherwise suffer through no actions of their own. Apart from this, their flexibility and enthusiasm to involve in theatrical activities also becomes a crucial factor that makes sure the presence of children in the theatrical activities.
While reviewing the history of theatre for children in India, the same trend of providing female roles to the male children at their young age could be seen. The reasons are almost the same in Indian context also.
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However it is significant to evaluate the representation of children in Indian theatre. India has a rich tradition of theatre and children were always a part of it. In certain traditional families that are inclined to theatre, children are taught about the nuances of theatre at a very young age itself. From their home they learn the primary lessons of theatre from their parents and later from a scholar of theatre as higher studies.
There are a few traditional theatre groups in India which incorporate children as their performers. In these performances, children in their teenage often perform the role of females. This forms a co-incidental relationship between Indian and English theatre. Not only in Indian folk theatres are that children made to perform female roles, in traditional classical theatre in India like Kathakali too, children in teenage are mainly trained to perform female roles. While discussing on the themes of these folk theatre groups, Nilakantan [ 14 ] observes that the themes are mainly oriented in Hindu mythology and the children assuming the mythical characters in it are called the Swarups incarnations.
She explains that during the performances, they are considered as the embodiment of gods. Among the theatrical productions, there are mainly two that are particularly meant only for children. The second play Gaura Lila is derivative of Sansenba and describes the religious journeys of Lord Chaitanya mahapraphu [ 14 ]. He initiated educational programs for children in his village in West Bengal which is now known to the world as Shanthinikethan, where he organized a lot of academic and literary activities for children.
Theatre he found as the most appropriate medium for the children to enhance their language skills. His plays like Sharadotsav Autumn Festival and The King and The Rebel not only ensured the participation of the children in it as the performers but also enhancement of their language speaking abilities. According to Nilakantan [ 14 ], the play The King and The Rebel was written especially to improve the fluency of children in English.
Till then it was only the male children who carried out the roles of females, where Tagore introduced girls themselves to the stage providing them better opportunity to acquire good academic knowledge, in an age which denied the woman folk the wisdom of education. Tagore maintained his own views about the inclusion of both male and female children in theatre. But these organizations did not achieve much. One of the basic reasons for this is due to lack of adequate financial support for teachers and theatre technicians by the government [ 15 ].
It is hardly possible of an individual or a group to raise funds to carry on massive projects like this.
Another reason is the absence of infrastructure, particularly of well-equipped auditoria and transport facility that can make theatre-going, a joyful experience. Most of the teachers and parents have not yet recognized the value of watching professional plays for their children and they are more interested in seeing their children attending workshops and performing in theatre than ensuring the participation of their children in it.
This attitude of both the parents and children may also be considered as a reason for the poor development of theaters for children in India. Among the subjects that have achieved global attention, child and childhood come in the forefront of the list. Associations and organizations around the world are working as a whole to ensure the welfare of the children and to make their life standards better.
This paper is an attempt to identify childhood through definitions on childhood provided by philosophers and scholars worldwide and to identify its association with theatre.
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