Thursday, May 23, 2019

The Emancipation of TYA: Creating Nontraditional Theatre for Young Audiences

Across the United States and around the world there are TYA companies and artists who are pushing the envelope by creating nontraditional TYA. These artists are breaking with tradition by creating work that is immersive, interactive, multi-sensory, and/or installation-style theatre. These artists and companies are challenging their audiences by exposing them to theatre that is innovative and nontraditional in form. But what makes something nontraditional? Is it simply a departure from the traditional Aristotelian form? Are we bound by linear plots that are driven by narrative action or can we venture to the land of non-linear storytelling?

In times past a majority of work produced for young audiences seemed to be inspired by fairy tales. Now book adaptations have replaced fairy tales as the new go-to material for young audiences. How can we create innovative and evocative work for youth when so many TYA companies shy away from creating new work? Is there a way to reimagine the way we stage book adaptations and fairy tales that will breathe new life into the stories and characters that are so popular with the communities we serve?

Content aside, are we bound to the traditional theater space or is there a way to break free from the conventional idea that theatre must be produced in a theater? If not produced in a theater, where? The theater is a safe space with clear boundaries. How can we create safe boundaries when we endeavor to create theatre in nontraditional spaces?

In this edition of The TYA Blog I hope to address the following questions:

  • What is Nontraditional TYA? How does one create evocative unconventional TYA in a world where many are bound to book adaptations and fairy tales?
  • Where do, or can, you produce theatre if not in a theater?
  • How do you create safe boundaries when creating immersive, interactive, multi-sensory, and/or installation-style theatre?
  • What is the process used when creating these types of theatre?
  • What challenges do producing artist/organizations face when creating nontraditional TYA?

If you are interested in contributing to the conversation I’d love to hear from you. We seek blog posts that are 500-1000 words in length that might explore one or more of the above questions. However, these questions are purely a jumping off point, please feel free to send other questions, ideas or blogs in reference to creating nontraditional TYA to me at

Stay tuned!


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    Storytellers, Stand Up!: Keynote Address at Write Now 2019

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