Why Theatre For Young Audiences RULES (So Much More Than You Thought)

Written by Leryn Turlington

January 19, 2017

Ever wonder if doing children’s theatre and theatre for young adults is for you? Chicago actor Leryn Turlington has four substantial reasons why TYA is one of the most fulfilling performance opportunities out there.

4. It’s Electric.

Imagine a Friday night audience after reviews and word-of-mouth have spread glorious praise of your show. That audience may laugh, applaud, sigh, gasp. They may look on adoringly in thoughtful silence, hanging on your every word. Now add to that giggles, squeals and unfiltered hysterical reactions. Add to that an audience that will give back every ounce of enthusiasm you give to them, one that sees right through you and relentlessly keeps you honest. It’s invigorating, it’s enlivening, it’s electric. That is a young audience.

3. It’s Important.

Do you remember the first play you ever saw? Was it the spark that began a lifetime of love for the theatre and brought you to study and pursue it? Students involved in the arts have improved academic performance and tests scores, are more likely to become involved in community service and less likely to drop out of school. The same values it instills upon adults – worldliness, open-mindedness, morals, acceptance, imagination – it instills upon children so much more profoundly because of their young mind ready for molding. It also teaches them an appreciation of the arts so that even if they don’t pursue it, they are more likely to be patrons and respectful audiences members in their adult life.

2. It’s Practical.

Think long and hard before you overlook Theatre for Young Audiences for something more sophisticated. Early mornings and a high-energy performance style aren’t for every actor, so TYA shows pay well for how short the shows are (usually never more than an hour). Families and schools bring children so there is always a market and an opportunity of having a full house. The other bonus is that shows are typically in the morning or during the day, leaving your evening free for a night show, a second job or free time!

1. It’s Educational… For You.

As mentioned above, a young audience is relentless. They are honest, loud, unpredictable and sometimes uncontrollable. If you are looking for a challenge as an actor, look to a young audience to keep you on your toes. Their shorter attention spans are perfect for crafting a good sense of pace and keeping your energy at the appropriate level. Their unpredictability is an excellent exercise for your improv skills and reading the audience. Their squirmy, squealy interruptions are practice for your focus and most importantly, they have X-Ray vision when it comes to truth and clarity. Children are so literal and honest – they know when an actor is “phoning it in” and are trusting you to take them on an honest and earnest journey into their imagination.

Need some advice? We’ve got you covered.

Leryn Turlington is an interdisciplinary artist living in Chicago, IL. She has appeared on stage at the Drury Lane Theatre, Marriott Theatre and has participated in collaborative projects such as HybridSalon and cabarets around the city. She is represented by Paonessa Talent and is a proud graduate from Florida State University’s Musical Theatre program.