Is your child Creative?

Is your child Creative?

Children are inherently creative…but the struggle has always been, what to do with this wonderful creative energy? How do you encourage this? And (the never-ending problem) how do you help them make friends? 

Children are inherently creative…but the struggle has always been, what to do with this wonderful creative energy? How do you encourage this? And (the never-ending problem) how do you help them make friends? 


 

I tried drama.

One of my favourite memories of my eldest son Sam has to be of him in his end of year drama presentation when he was just five-years-old. He was all dressed up as a scientist with a globe of the earth trying to take over the world by turning everyone in it into dinosaurs. Of course he was then eaten by a velociraptor. He was only five after all, and this was his first year with Marian Street Theatre for Young People.

Recently one of Sam's (who is now fifteen) closest friends has been cast in the MSTYP's newest production 'Wind in the Willows'. One of the things this unique youth theatre company does is casts the young people in the drama school in their public season of performances. This means they’re mentored through the whole process of creating a production by industry professionals, along with a group of other young people. Talking to the mum of  Sam's friend, this has been quite a transformative time.

'She was kind of stuck in her shell. She would barely talk to me, she'd stopped speaking in class at school, we were really worried about her. But now it's like all that teenage shyness is falling away, she's communicating, she's starting to be confident again. It’s beautiful to see her blossom in such a creative way. 

Jessica Blaxland Ashby, one of the staff members at MSTYP said ‘It’s a very unique thing to perform in one of the shows. There’s a huge amount of discipline involved, the young people have to remember their lines, where their props need to be put, what costume they need and when…and then they need to go out there and perform in front an audience of the general public. They’re treated with respect and are given responsibility and this helps them grow hugely as young people. Of course there’s also the friends that they make, which just keep them coming back for more – they don’t want to go home!’

 

Over the years, my children and I have been delighted by so many and varied performances by the talented young people. Peter Pan, The Little Mermaid and Imogen and the Pirates are some of our recent favourites. The shows always include a great story, gorgeous and often original songs, audience participation, and a layer of deeper meaning there for us older ‘children’ as well. There’s also a lot in there for the younger children too – no, they might not get the story, but there’s bright colours and interesting voices and that counts for a lot when you’re two-years-old.

Jessica also went on to say ‘it’s so important having a non-competitive atmosphere, allowing everyone to have a go, from the shy ones who have it all cooped up inside to the loud ones who have no problem being heard. Everyone’s unique talents need to be celebrated.  This sort of equal treatment, without the pressure to 'perform' or 'be better than all the other kids' is just so important, particularly when they're young. It's fine to fail – and we really strive to make a safe space for this to happen.’

Speaking further to Jessica, it turns out she is the third generation to be involved with the organisation. ‘My grandmother started the children’s productions in the way they are now with young people performing in them. My mother grew up there, writing and directing some of the shows as well as teaching. Finally, when I was six I started drama classes, auditioned for the children’s theatre productions when I was eleven, did about twenty shows, became a teacher there after university, began directing and now I’m one of the permanent staff. I only wish I could have met my grandmother Audrey Blaxland who started this incredible tradition – she passed away just before I was born. I know we would have been an amazing duo!’

 

One of the most wonderful things about watching young people perform is a tangible joy and energy that you just don’t usually get with adult actors. Also the children in the audience have a special connection with the young people on stage because they are closer in age to each other. You can see the glint in the audience’s eyes saying ‘one day, I want to be up there.’

I would encourage anyone who has children, especially those who don’t quite fit the ‘normal’ mould – those unusual, highly unique and beautiful children, to try them with the MSTYP drama classes. Whether they be a shy thirteen-year-old waiting for encouragement, a singing menace of a nine-year-old, or a five-year old mad scientist, I would thoroughly recommend the classes…and coming to the shows!

Find out more? www.mstyp.org.au for more info on the classes and the shows…or contact them directly on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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