By Ariel Backer
The School of Theatre at Florida State carries on its mission to engage the Tallahassee community with the TYA presentation of Kevin Dyer's The Monster Under the Bed.
Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA) is an annual initiative of the FSU School of Theatre that concentrates on the theatrical "audiences of tomorrow" – our youth. Monster was the play chosen this season to engage students and families alike with its fun-filled, chaotic sense of adventure and heartfelt charm.
"There's a national trend right now with the TYA initiative that companies are doing shows with substance – we're treating kids with respect as audience members," FSU Associate Director of Patron Services Ashley Kerns remarked. She continued, "Just because they're younger than an adult doesn't mean they can't handle the content of a real show."
The ever-increasing significance of developing support for the arts must be integrated into the earlier years of our lives. "These shows could be seen as playing to the most important audience," FSU Assistant Professor in Performance and Director George McConnell said.
He explained that by implementing the unique experience of going to the theatre into the daily lives of children, like other places in the world, it can truly inspire change in their lifestyles and familial relationships.
"You can go to Disney World, you can go to the movies, and yes, you can go see a play – as a family you have had this experience together; therefore you've built a common ground," McConnell said. He expressed, "I'm really trying to direct this as an event – an experiential thing that happens."
This production will be performed for approximately 1,500 students in rising K-5th grades as part of the Plays on School Days series. The program is supported in part by the City of Tallahassee, Leon County, and the Council on Culture & Arts to provide participating Leon County schools' students with play guides and arts integrated workshops that meet Sunshine State Standards.
Kerns explained, "It's a way for us to reach out to young people in the community and introduce them to theatre for the first time, so they may come back year after year; it's also an opportunity for us to reach out from an educational perspective."
As a new addition to the initiative this year they're conducting a series of outreach workshops throughout the schools in Tallahassee – seven facilitators will be venturing into classrooms before and after the performance. They will be teaching students the basic conventions of theatre and involve them in activities revolving around the themes of the production.
These activities will also be made available for families who come to regularly scheduled evening and matinee performances. In addition, guests are invited to an ice cream party in the lobby after the show.
As the director, McConnell conveys that his main focus for this production is to enlighten our youth on how theatre works, "We're not trying to hide the mechanics of theatre, but we're actually trying to expose as many of them as possible because that's how you understand the magic of theatre."
The play, although set in a magical land in England, will be grounded in the Tallahassee community – where the actual theatrical event is being presented. There will be a video chase scene that will be projected onto the set during the play that is representative of Tallahassee.
"The students coming are from Tallahassee, so for them to see parts of Tallahassee and their own school in this representational space, brings the community in this way," McConnell said.
This TYA production also provides an opportunity for families to engage in healthy discussions "about home, about expressing your feelings and emotions, about using your imagination – all of these things about growing up and being comfortable in your own body are themes that provide conversation starters," Kerns added.
The Monster Under the Bed runs November 15-18, 2012. To purchase tickets online visit http://tickets.fsu.edu, you can also visit the Ticket Office located in the Fine Arts Building, or to place orders on the phone call the office: (850) 644-6500 during their business hours (Tuesday-Saturday) between the hours of 11am-4pm.
Adult Ticket: $15.00. Senior Ticket (Age 62+): $15.00. Child/Student Ticket: $10.00.