World Day 2013 Message from Yvette Hardie, ASSITEJ President

 What is the value of theatre in the lives of children and young people?

Much has been written about the value of the arts, and important work is being done across the globe in researching the powerful effects of the arts on children through studies in neuroscience, neuro-education, developmental psychology and related fields. But as much as we can try to measure the impact of what we do, there is also a level at which the impact of art on its audience remains mysterious and unquantifiable. It is the profound and unique meeting of the theatre piece with the audience in a particular time and space that makes theatre so unpredictable and exciting.

Recently I was reminded of the saying, "You can count the seeds in an apple, but you can't count the apples in the seed." The impact of the theatre experience on children and young people may be impossible to measure precisely, but I believe that it is potent in containing the seeds for countless numbers of apples.

Pieter-Dirk Uys, a celebrated actor and writer in South Africa, who works with under-privileged children in the little village of Darling, tells the story of a time he took a group of children on an outing to the city. He was driving the bus up the long hill out of the village, when he noticed that the little boy on the front seat next to him was getting increasingly tense. As they reached the top of the hill, and the little boy could see the road stretching out in front of him and the sea in the distance, he exclaimed in wonder and relief, "There's more!" I believe that those of us who make theatre for children and young people are doing it for that precise reason - to awaken in every child the understanding that there is, indeed, "more". And more. And more.

So when we make theatre for children and young people we are both seeding immeasurable potency and providing the immediacy of discovering "more" - more of joy, laughter, curiosity, the sudden realisation, the shift in perception, the tears of empathy, the sense of wonder and of deep absorption. More of what it means to be alive.

Join us in celebrating the World Day for Theatre for Children and Young People 2013 through the "Take a Child to the Theatre Today" campaign. Who can count the apples in the seed you will be planting?