Taboos in theatre for children and young people

Þriðjudagur, 11 Október 2011 08:44



A collaboration between Nordic and Latin American theater people about taboos in theater for children and young people.

How do you raise the difficult topics in theater for children and young people? Theatre people from The Nordic countries and Latin America have come together to explore this in the project Taboo, funded through the Culture and art programme.

The project started when Katariina Metsälampi from Finland, and Maria Inés Falconi from Argentina, brainstormed similarities and differences in theater for children and young people, in different parts of the world.

The two women are both working for Assitej, an international volunteer organization for theater for children and young people, with members in over 80 countries. We spoke with Metsälampi about Taboo.

Metsälampi came up with the idea the idea of taboos and cultures, having been given a Spanish book of plays about death; some of them were for children and young people.

- They were quite gruesome, I was thinking that those would never be read in the Nordic countries.

The planning phase started with an international Assitej meeting in Buenos Aires in 2007, after which the project has proceeded with workshops and festivals in Venezuela, Iceland, Helsinki and Cuba before it all ended in Rio de Janeiro in 2010.

The Nordic members had more funding, also for traveling, so the project's first phase was held in Latin America.

- Often, it seems that the Nordic countries with their money, go out to teach things. It was important for us that we should learn from each other, that we were equal. Therefore, it was one of the selection criteria that the participants should be very experienced artists from theater for children and young people.

Venezuela was the host country in Latin America, and in Caracas artists started to discuss taboos in their own home countries, and what they them selves felt was taboo. Later in the project, they worked directly with children and young people and got feedback from them.

- An interesting thing we learned from them was that the taboos of children and young people were not the same as the older theater people had themselves.

- A Spanish participant had an interesting technique when he worked with children and taboos, he put a box in front of the children and said: This box is filled with secrets, can you guess what they are?

The project ended with a gathering in Rio de Janeiro, and one of the conclusions drew there was that one must be cunning.

- Theatre People need to dear more, go deeper, but also work more artistic. Because it is so that children do not go to the theater themself, there are parents or teachers who take them. So you have to make good plays for children. And you have to raise these difficult subjects in the plays, but perhaps not openly, because you must convince the teachers or parents that the play is good.

The project was therefore concluded in Rio de Janeiro in 2010, ie the first phase of the project was completed. Now they are working to take the project forward, both with partners in Africa, Asia and Europe.

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