Esplanade shares with us five essential tips on how to introduce your child to immersive theatre productions like Cerita Anak (Child’s Story).

This article is an excerpt of the article by Esplanade, read the full article here.

1. Spark Imagination

• Throw a sheet over both your heads. Where are we? Play with the rise and fall of the sheet. Feel the cloth and air on your skin.

• Give your child a torch. Turn off the lights at home, and let them shine their light on the furniture. How different do things look? Can you make shadows with your hands? Check under the table – what do you see?

2. Build Trust

Children always come to the theatre with adults – they have no real choice in the matter, points out Giles, “So it’s vital for us to recognise that relationship in thinking about our audience.” For younger children, you might want to reassure them that you will be with them during the performance.

Cerita Anak (Child’s Story) also has a pre-show activity, in which performers and audience members work together to make sea creatures. This sets up the crew as friends and guides, says Giles, who will be with the passengers every step of the way.

3. Minimise Gadget Time

Allow buffer time between digital distractions and the intimacy of theatre. Performer Pambo Priyojati, who plays a sailor in Cerita Anak (Child’s Story), suggests minimising kids’ playing with devices before the show, “Their feelings will be calmer and stable, and they will enjoy the performance more.”

4. Be Open

One of the best things about immersive theatre is letting the audience find their own way in the space and on the journey, says performer Emily Tomlins.

5. The Show Doesn't End When It Does

Children might have many thoughts and emotions after the show. Allow your child to find their own time to ask questions. (But, also, don’t be in a rush to talk if they need more time to process their feelings.)

Older children might want to discuss the show’s deeper themes of refugee journeys and migration. Let this conversation happen. Tomlins says, “It’s often useful to start from a place of empathy. ‘What would it be like to be separated from your own family?’ ‘What’s important to you about having a home?’”

Speak to your child the way you find best. Some parents in the past have found the work very useful to talk about their own family history of arrival, says Giles – “to be able to say, ‘my mother and father came to Australia in this way – they left to find a new home, so that I could be safe’”.

Lastly, there are moments in the show that can be reproduced or expanded on at home, such as going on your own imaginary journey, making sea creatures or creating your own shadow puppets.

Image Credits: Esplanade