(Photo by: Rob Weinert-Kendt. Pictured: Oliver Weinert-Kendt)
Last fall, I attended a “Scottish festival” at the New Victory Theater in New York City, and was intrigued in particular by a piece I saw there, Andy Manley’s My House, which was created for very, very young audiences—as young as one-year-old, in fact. As a new father myself, my interest was as much personal as professional. I learned that this trend, stronger in Europe than in the U.S., is nevertheless catching on with a handful of companies and presenters here. So, after reporting from last winter’s IPAY (International Performing Arts for Youth) conference and talking to several sources, including another one provided by the New Vic (the Swedish psychologist/playwright Ann-Sofie Barany, who wrote 2006’s Babydrama for children aged six months to year), I wrote an in-depth feature about developments in “baby theatre” in the September 2010 issue of American Theatre.
I happened to open and close that piece with the hope that my own son, Oliver, would soon experience his first play, looking forward specifically to a piece that the New Victory would present by British/Italian Lyngo Theatre Company. So, on his 16-month birthday in early November, Oliver and I were there for the one of the first few performances of Egg and Spoon (which closed on Nov. 21), along with two theatre journalist colleagues of mine and their young children. I didn’t think this little stunt necessarily merited more space in American Theatre, but another publication showed interest, the New York Times. I can only hope this level of attention will pique the interest of U.S. artists and funders in this still-newborn theatrical trend. As I mentioned in the piece, it may be difficult to put a precise value on this experience, but I know I’ll cherish the memory of my son pretending to dream—which, come to think of it, is a pretty evocative way to describe for theatregoing in general.