This is how children and youth can participate

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to: Stephanie Knucker

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Children and young people recently visited the Kettler Hof amusement park. © FLBH

Theater for the whole family – this is what the Herdringen open-air theater offers not only to the audience, but also to the actors. This means that children and youth also have a permanent place in everyday life on stage. But how did they get to the stage in the first place?

Herdringen – even the youngest actors – who are only a year old – brought a smile to the audience’s faces.

Today’s part of our series Look Behind the Scenes at the Herdringen open-air theater is about working with children and young people.

How did children and young adults get to the outdoor theater in the first place?

“We have many children who have been a part of open-air theater since birth because their parents or grandparents are also active on stage. Other children get a taste of theater when they visit open-air theaters with their families, kindergarten or school. They get to know Sandra Blumenthal, childcare worker,” says childcare worker Sandra Blumenthal. on their favorite role and they want to be there on stage.” Contact is made according to the motto “I know someone who knows someone on stage” – or in a very “modern” way via the contact form on the outdoor platform website. The director of the family theater, Detlev Brandt takes care of , with children and introduces them to the open-air theater family and all its tasks. Once a child or young person decides to take part in the play, the actors are selected along with the director and director shortly before roles are assigned to the next play.” Everyone who wants to play in the next season – regardless of their age and of course in Relaxing atmosphere – sliding into different roles using small text clips. This way we can see who fits which role and character”, explains Blumenthal. There is no waiting list currently. “Everyone is welcome to participate – both on and behind the stage,” he extended an invitation to Svenja Bilik and Elisa Mengeringhausen, leaders of the youth group.

What exactly do children and young people do outdoors?

At the age of 16, young actors belong to the youth group. Before that, the kids were divided into three different groups: there are Mini-Freilis – from zero to two years old, Freili-Kids – from three to ten years old – and Teenies – from 11 to 15 years old. The youth group does (almost) everything the adults do. “This means that we are active in various professions and take on the tasks there – currently mainly in acting, sales, technology and make-up, in the advertising department, in the valet parking service and in the cash desk service. In addition, everyone has at least one cleaning appointment, so that the onlookers find Clean atmosphere,” the youth group leaders said. Same thing with children. Participation in family theater is the main task of children and adolescents. With older actors, they create the play with solo or group roles, dances, lyrical breaks or dances. “Older teens in particular can support individual crafts, but they also help with cleaning and tidying,” Sandra Blumenthal says. “The construction of the stage can be supported with small manual tasks by laying the beds, and props, roads, sawing, painting, and also needle and thread can be worked on the costume.”

How do leaders introduce children and youth to work?

Directors offer different activities. Children and young people recently visited the Kettler Hof amusement park. “For example, last summer we played Laser Tag; we meet on game nights or take part in workshops. In addition, the youth group is involved in organizing celebrations and events within the association, ”explain Svenja Bilik and Elisa Mengeringhausen. The German Open Air Theater Association (VDF Nord) offers many events throughout the year. One of them: the youth camp in Lohne. There, children and young people in the open-air theater meet like-minded people and spend their weekends together. “Through group encounters, improvisation games, pantomimes, performance tasks, and through re-enactments of short scenes from plays, children are constantly deepening their acting and expressive skills and they dare more and more to speak in front of others and sometimes slip into other roles,” Blumenthal says. She also plans and accompanies acting and dance workshops. So it is responsible for the “decorations” and “on the side”, where the fun and the community factor always come first. “But directors, singing teachers, and choreographers also benefit from the great energy of young performers,” the childcare worker continues. Actors’ skills are enhanced and trained with external lecturers on topics such as breathing, voice, posture and emotions. Beleke and Mengeringhausen summarize: “In fact, the motto is ‘learning by doing’.”

Why do directors particularly enjoy working with young actors?

“None of us see ourselves working with young people. We are part of a youth group like everyone else – with the difference that we do more organization and representation on the board. But we all make most decisions together anyway,” confirm Svenja Bielik and Elisa Mengeringhausen. Sandra Blumenthal also confirms this: “I think it’s great that it’s an equal hobby. And when I then see that at the premiere party the directors were dancing a duck dance with the five-year-old, 16 and 30, that’s when I know I’m on right place.”

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