Acting Like Children

Posted: 26/04/11

David Harradine, Artistic Director of Fevered Sleep, spoke at Rose Bruford College on 16 April as part of the Acting Like Children project organised by Polka Theatre, Travelling Light and Action Transport Theatre.

David spoke about his experiences while making Brilliant and On Ageing and the idea of identification and truthfulness. Here is a snippit of his speech. To read the full presentation go to, where you can also sign up to become a member.

"As adult theatre goers, we also choose to watch things which show us radically different ways of living and being, theatre is also valuable because it allows us to access experiences and identities that are profoundly different from our own.  At the risk of being provocative, I wonder then why it is that so much theatre for children focuses on children:  on child characters. 
Is it a legacy of the influence of children’s literature on the children’s theatre landscape:  the dozens and dozens and dozens of adaptations of children’s books in which children take on a central role?  Or is it because we think that children can only identify with or understand the experiences of other children, that they cannot show interest in or engagement with an adult’s experiences?  And if this is the case, do we project this assumption onto children because too many adults fail to show interest in or engagement with the experiences of a child?
I suppose, at the risk of being provocative, I wonder why it is that whereas as adult theatre watchers we seek out and value theatre that shows us people and lives and situations that are beyond our own experience, as adult theatre makers we feel that children want or need to watch theatre which shows them representations of children on stage."