Taking children to a performing arts theatre can help them develop an interest in the arts and drama, but planning the excursion can be stressful for many parents. Though there will always be a bit of chaos when asking young children to sit through a performance of any kind, be it live theatre or a film, there are a few things parents can do to better prepare for the experience. Here are a few tips to help families have a successful and enjoyable trip to a live show.
Explain the Process to the Kids
Unless the trip is a surprise, many children do better during plays and performances when the process and rules are explained to them. Before arriving at the venue, let them know what to expect. Help them understand the story, so they’ll be better prepared to view the show with minimal interruptions. Explain what the curtain call means and let them know what’s expected of them once they’re in their seats. Preparing kids to attend the show is one of the most important steps for having a successful trip.
Pick the Right Play
There are plays in just about every genre, but some of them are best suited to a more mature audience. Try to choose a show that the kids will find interesting and entertaining. If they’re engaged with the characters and actively show interest in the performance, they’ll enjoy the experience far more than if the show contains subject matter that goes over their heads. Best of all, most children’s plays are rather forgiving of rambunctious behaviour and audience participation, so interruptions won’t be frowned upon or distract the cast from their performance.
Give Them Something to Do While They Wait
If parking at the performing arts theatre is limited, it may be helpful to arrive early, but avoid settling into the lobby for a long wait before curtain call. Try to find nearby attractions or take the kids out to a restaurant before the production. That way, the kids will be occupied and entertained rather than waiting in a lobby for the show to start in an hour or two. If waiting is the only option, let the kids bring a few toys or a book to stay entertained.
It’s Okay to Leave
Some characters or events in plays can frighten children, even if they’re familiar with the story. If a child is upset by a character’s portrayal or the dimming theatre lights trigger their fear of the dark, don’t make them suffer through it. It’s okay to get up and leave a performance to help children understand what they’re seeing and help them calm down. Once they’re ready to return to their seats, the ushers will help with navigation through the dim lighting when movement from the lobby won’t interrupt the cast.
Everyone can enjoy a trip to a performing arts theatre, but these tips should help make the trip easier with kids. Encourage their passion for creative expression and take them to a live show!