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Speaking with Teachers in Barcelona

A Report from a Meeting with Teachers

In our meeting, we considered accompanying Teenagers to see shows. How to encourage, accompany, and invite Teenagers to the Theatre – not only during school hours but also afterschool. Different ideas were mentioned but this is an area we need to work on in more depth.

We also considered the experience after the show. We talked about encouraging Teenagers to share opinions after having watched the show, and the debate and criticism that is generated after seeing it.

Xesca Vela proposed to investigate how the Theatres and Festivals programme productions. She wishes to know more about their criteria, priorities, processes, and procedures.

Different options arise from this question, related to the selection and programming criteria:

Teams with different profiles can be invited to learn what their programming processes are and the variables to be taken into account when configuring a programme. The option of inviting a programmer or different artistic teams to share these observations is considered, thus bringing together the respective needs and realities of the installations and festivals for teenagers.

In this regard, they can work on different dynamics to ask the pupils what they want to see, where the pupils take part in the decision and defend their choice before their classmates and at the same time question and interrogate those responsible for programming from the Teenagers’ viewpoint.

These observations can be shared in TEEN Kitchen Table Format (Teenagers speak, Programmers/Directors listen and ask questions) inverting the normal roles and giving a voice to the teenagers (with prior preparation and selection of those who will represent each centre).

It is possible to draw up a manifesto made by the educational centres on how a spectacle should be to be attractive, interesting and inspiring for teenagers.

To offer a specific tool that enables direct working with teenagers, the TEEN Kitchen Table Meeting format is presented:

JP, acting as the chairman, explained the rules.
The participants gave ideas to improve the choice of shows:

-It is interesting to provide the maximum amount of information before seeing the show, such as, for example, micro-clips of shows, a video with the actors/actresses speaking directly to the teenagers about the creative process.

-With the information we have about the play, it is essential also to put it into practice, making hypotheses about the characters, working physically with improvisations, etc.

-If the teachers from the centre make the choice: it is crucial to give the reason for their decision, without making predictions on what teenagers would like and take a few more risks, go a little further. Do not only choose works with didactic intentions. It is necessary to trust the criteria of the youths and listen to them, but also be aware that many do not have referents and will, therefore, choose shows of a more commercial nature. If they are not accompanied by the school, they could miss experiences that they would not access in any other way. What they like is not always what the teachers like, it is important to be open to their tastes and not just prescribe, trying to find a balance between accompanying them and deciding for them, giving them options that they would not access by themselves and listening to their requests.

-It is possible to help them make a choice, limiting it, for example, to specific predetermined installations and Theatres.

-It is essential to underline the “Dionysian” aspect, de seduction, looking for more subversive or unorthodox shows that they can connect to at an emotional and experiential level. The experiential element of Theatre is important: that teenagers go on their own initiative, not only with the class group. That they should see other complementary aspects of the work itself (videos of the artists, the behind the scenes, the backstage, different formats, disciplines and lengths, etc.).

During the Kitchen Tableformat, the participants are also asked to say two or three things they would ask artistic management regarding the selection of shows that are of interest to teenagers.

Some examples:

-To collect teenagers’ experiences the artistic management should work to find texts that are linked to them. It is possible to make a mailbox or contest/call for texts/ideas/experiences so playwrights can make works based on that material and thus strengthen the relationship between teenagers and artistic management.

This will require important preliminary work, as the pupils will not spontaneously write about this; instead, they often try to explain fictional stories. Pupils should be encouraged to express their own experiences and help turn them into a Theatre text or the basis for improvisation.

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