This is how children and young people can participate

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Of: Stephanie Nocker


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

Theater for the whole family – the outdoor theater Herdringen offers this not only to the audience, but also to the actors. This means that children and young people also have a permanent place in everyday life on stage. But how do they get on the scene in the first place?

The hardening – Even the smallest actors – just one year old – put a smile on the audience’s face.

Today’s part of our series “See behind the scenes” of Herdringen Friluftsteater is about the work with children and young people.

How did children and young people get to the outdoor scene in the first place?

“We have many children who have been part of the outdoor theater since birth, because their parents or grandparents are also active on stage. Other children get a taste of the theater when they visit open-air theaters with their families, kindergarten or school. They identify with their favorite role and want to be there on stage,” says childcare worker Sandra Blumenthal. The contact is made according to the motto “I know someone who knows someone on the stage” – or in a very “modern” way via the contact form on the outdoor scene’s website. Family theater manager Detlev Brandt takes care of the young people and introduces them to the outdoor theater family and all its tasks. As soon as a child or young person decides to take part in the play, a casting with director and director takes place shortly before the roles are assigned to the next play. “Everyone who wants to play in the next season – no matter how old and of course in a relaxed atmosphere – slips into different roles with small passages of text. That way, we can see who fits into which role and character,” explains Blumenthal. There is currently no waiting list. “Everyone is welcome to participate – whether on or behind the stage,” invites the youth group’s leaders, Svenja Beleke and Elisa Mengeringhausen.

What exactly do children and young people do on the outdoor scene?

At the age of 16, the young actors belong to the youth group. Before then, the children are divided into three different groups: There are Mini-Freilis – from zero to two years, Freili-Kids – from three to ten years – and Teenies – from eleven to 15 years. The youth group does (almost) everything the adults do. “This means that we are active in the various subjects and take on tasks there – at the moment primarily in acting, sales, technology, make-up, in the advertising department, in the parking service and in the checkout service. In addition, everyone has at least one cleaning agreement, so the spectators find a clean atmosphere,’ said the leaders of the youth group. It is the same with children. Taking part in the family theater is the main task of the children and teenagers. Together with other older actors, they create the piece with individual speaking or group roles, dance and song interludes or choreos. “Especially the older teenagers can support the individual subjects, but they also help clean up and clean up,” says Sandra Blumenthal. “The stage construction can be supported with small manual tasks by laying out beds that can be worked with props, hammering, sawing, painting and also attaching needle and thread to the costume.”

How do managers introduce children and young people to work?

The directors offer various activities. Children and young people have recently visited the amusement park Ketteler Hof. “For example, last summer we played laser tag; we meet at game nights or participate in workshops. In addition, the youth group helps organize parties and events in the association,” explain Svenja Beleke and Elisa Mengeringhausen. The association of German open-air theaters (VDF Nord) offers various events throughout the year. One of them: the youth camp in Lohne. There, the children and young people of the outdoor theater meet like-minded people and spend a weekend together. “Through group meetings, improv games, pantomime, performance tasks and by having the children recreate short scenes from plays, their acting and expression skills are constantly being deepened and they are increasingly daring to speak in front of others and sometimes slip into other roles,” reports Blumenthal. She also plans and accompanies acting and choreo workshops. So she is responsible for the “decor” and “on the page”, where the fun and the community factor always come first. “But the directors, singing teachers and choreographers also benefit from the great energy of the young performers,” continues the day care worker. The actors’ skills are further promoted and trained with external instructors on topics such as breathing and voice, posture and emotions. Beleke and Mengeringhausen summarize: “In fact, the motto is ‘learning by doing’.”

Why do the directors particularly enjoy working with the young actors?

“None of us see ourselves as working with young people. We are as much a part of the youth group as anyone else – with the difference that we do more organization and representation on the board. But we still make most decisions together,” emphasize Svenja Beleke and Elisa Mengeringhausen. Sandra Blumenthal also confirms this: “I just think it’s great that it really is a hobby where everyone is equal. And then when I see the CEOs at the premiere party doing the inside dance with the five-year-old, the 16-year-old and the 30-year-old, I know I’m in the right place.”

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