CHILDREN’S dramas will be graded for the first time in Shanghai to give parents a better idea about which plays are suitable for their kids.
About 28 productions for children including both local and overseas works will be staged at Shanghai Children’s Art Theater this year.
“There is a huge difference in children from zero to 12 years old, both physically and intellectually,” says Cai Jinping, president of Children’s Art Theater of China Welfare Institute. “So proper grading will help ensure parents can pick the most suitable performances for their children.”
For example, the fairy tale “Hansel and Gretel” to be staged in February by Japanese theater company Hikosen is for children over 3 years old. Musical “The Happiness of Growing” by Children’s Art Theater of China Welfare Institute is recommended for children over 5 years old.
“The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” produced by Mermaid Theater of Nova Scotia in Canada, is best for those from 3 to 7 years old, while “Puzzle” by Dansema Dance Theater of Lithuania has been specially created for children up to 3 years of age.
Founded in June 2013, Shanghai Children’s Arts Theater is the city’s biggest group producing plays for children. Attendance reached more than 90,000 for the 141 performances staged last year.
Apart from usual children’s plays, the theater has diversified its lineup this year with music, dance, physical and light-wire theater. More interaction with kids is planned before, during and after shows to better capture the attention of young children.
“I hope that the children audiences will be wowed when visiting our theater, and thus arouse an interest in art,” says Liang Xiaoxia, general manager of Shanghai Children’s Arts Theater.
Though domestically produced plays formed the bulk of last year’s schedule, more overseas productions are planned in 2015. About 22 of them are from overseas including the Asian premiere of Salzburg Marionette Theater’s “The Sound of Music” and “The Nutcracker.”
The programs have been chosen largely based on a survey of what audiences enjoyed the most in 2014, according to Liang.
“As a theater, we want to offer what the audiences want to see,” says Liang.
Shanghai Children’s Art Theater will continue its off-stage activities such as the SHCAT Market, where children can play merchants in their favorite costumes with the help of parents. They will also start SHCAT Classroom, a platform for artists to work with children.