TYA, Theatre for Young Audiences, Children's Theatre


Throughout the twentieth century, theatre for young audiences (TYA), or children's theatre, has been situated as something "other" or different than adult theatre, a kind of theatre--but not really theatre, a construct which opened the door to numerous "how to" philosophies geared specifically toward the theatre for young audiences practitioner. As a twenty-first century theatre practitioner, I am interested in how these philosophies are situated within or against current professional practices in the TYA field. This interest led me to the main question of this study: What are the predominant twentieth-century philosophies on acting, directing, and dramatic literature in the TYA field; and how do they compare to what is currently practiced on the professional American TYA stage? In order to explore current practice, I focused on three theatres, two of which are nationally recognized for their "quality" TYA work, the Seattle Children's Theatre and the Children's Theatre Company in Minneapolis. The third company, the Orlando-UCF Shakespeare Festival, is one of the largest Shakespearean festivals in the country, and has a growing theatre for young audiences program. Between June and October of 2006, I conducted numerous interviews with professional managers, directors, and actors from these organizations. I also attended productions of Pippi Longstocking (Children's Theatre Company), Honus and Me (Seattle Children's Theatre), and Peter Rabbit (Orlando-UCF Shakespeare Festival). It was through these interviews and observations of these productions that I was able to gain data--methodology, techniques, and philosophy--on twenty-first century TYA acting, directing, and dramatic literature. My study has uncovered that although there are numerous twentieth-century "how to" philosophies, many current TYA practitioners are unfamiliar with them. Most of the twenty-first century TYA practice that I studied follows the trends of the adult theatre. This thesis serves as the culmination of my Master of Fine Arts in theatre for young audiences at the University of Central Florida. However, it is not a culmination of my study on the theatre for young audiences field. Past philosophies paired with current methodology, while providing models of quality, also open the door to numerous ideas for further study. This thesis challenges me in examining my own notions of quality acting, directing, and dramatic literature in the TYA field; and it is my hope that this challenge makes me a more informed, deliberate, and responsible theatre practitioner.


If this is your thesis or dissertation, and want to learn how to access it or for more information about readership statistics, contact us at

Graduation Date





Alrutz, Megan


Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.)


College of Arts and Humanities



Degree Program









Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)