In our current era, with so much cheap and free access to streaming media – by way of Spotify, YouTube, Netflix, etc. – it’s easy to forget about all the hard work that goes into producing entertainment. If you are part of the Millennial or Gen-X cohort, you probably grew up going to see live theatre regularly, or at least once or twice on a field trip. The danger with the digital native generation (people who grew up in an age when the Internet was well established), is that entertainment seems to present itself fully formed, as if it were produced out of thin air.
If you have children who are interested in music or theatre, the best thing you can do is take them to a live performance and let them see all the sweat and craftsmanship that goes into putting on a show. Seeing live actors on stage, or hearing a live orchestra in the pit is a unique experience that it all too rare in this day and age. With all of the content that is constantly coming out, young people are being desensitized to the value of art. If you can emphasize to your kids the value and process of creating stories and music themselves, you may help to set them on the road to an artistic career, or at least an artistic outlet that will help them become confident, disciplined humans.
If you happen to live in Toronto, then taking you kids to the ballet is a great idea. Every year, the National Ballet puts on a stunning performance of the Nutcracker, with gorgeous music, dancing, costumes and stage effects. So many different art forms go into putting together this one production that your kids will surely be able to pick out one aspect of it that resonates with them, whether it’s the set, the dancing, the music or the costumes.
While certain ballets produced by the National Ballet are more avant-garde and challenging, usually there are one or two productions a year that are straightforward enough to appeal to young people. In March, 2018, they are putting on a production of Sleeping Beauty with music by Tchaikovsky and elaborate sets and costumes. Many of us grew up on the Disney Classic, so this lavish version of the classic fairy tale will certainly tug at your sense of nostalgia, and you can introduce your children to an old favourite.
By exposing your children to the wonder of live theatre or live music, you will give them the opportunity to be inspired. Get your kids playing an instrument or attending dance class by allowing them to experience live music and dancing in its highest form and seeing what amazing things they could accomplish. There is an outside chance that they may hate it, but it’s a chance worth taking. If you don’t try, you’ll never know!
Depending on their age, you could also try taking them to a show at Toronto’s YPT, which has excellent programming for children. For teenagers who are interested in non-musical theatre, the Tarragon Theatre and Factory Theatre are great alternative options.