Being A Gym For The Empathy Essay

Being A Gym For The Empathy Essay

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“Theatre is like a gym for the empathy. It’s where we can go to build up the muscles of compassion, to practice listening and understanding and engaging with people that are not just like ourselves. We practice sitting down, paying attention and learning from other people’s actions. We practice caring.” (Bill English of the SF Playhouse). This quote accurately summarises the purpose of Children’s Theatre, to help the growth and understanding of children whilst also keeping them entertained through theatrical techniques. The National Theatre’s Cat in the Hat, along with our performance pieces of Cranky Bear and Possum Magic all showcased these techniques in a number of ways, whilst also subconsciously coinciding with the child development theories of Piaget and Vygotsky. Cat in the Hat’s use of puppetry and music was extremely effective in keeping the children invested whilst also keeping them entertained and involved in the story. Cranky Bear featured some very successful audience participation as well as the use of exaggerated movements, which was also performed well to their target demographic, and Possum Magic’s most prominent technique was the use of a song which the audience could sing along too, along with their consistent use of anthropomorphism to ensure the viewers maintained immersion with the performance. These performances all convey these techniques in an effective manner whilst also relating to the psychological theories of Piaget and Vygotsky, with Cat in the Hat possibly being the most prominent.

The National Theatre’s Cat in the Hat, as a performance piece, connects to the children on a psychological level as a result of the techniques that it uses, particularly in its use of puppetry and music. In Cat in the Ha...


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...ality” (Piaget and Inhelder, 1950, p.6), otherwise known as accommodation. In Possum Magic’s repetitive use of a song, the audience picked up that if they listen they’ll be able to learn the song and in turn join in, therefore fitting the reality that was put before them. The other notable technique used was anthropomorphism. The actors focussed strenuously on representing the animals they were playing, with effort put into the voices, costumes and movement for the audience to easily deduce which animal they are. This once more calls back to accommodation and the prior knowledge these children have on these animals, as they understand what it is they are seeing and immerse themselves in this reality accordingly. Possum Magic uses the techniques of repetition and anthropomorphism coupled with accommodation for the audience to understand the ideas they are portraying.

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