Q's Countdown: Adult moments in Children's Theatre

The summer vacation brings with it Children's Theatre. This year as I marveled at the classical fare on offer, I couldn't help but chuckle at the unwitting faux pas made by theatre groups. How an afternoon at the theatre can 'educate' children in ways we can't even imagine. 

For the sake of propriety this months list is going to be without names of productions or people. Those of you have seen some of these will automatically know what I am talking about. Those that haven't...well get out and watch more theatre!!!! Also the list is not a full ten. I am relying on you my readers (yes all three of you), to complete the list. 

Well here goes:

  1. GRIPS can be quite a problem
    GRIPS form of theatre requires adults to play children on stage. It is a tried and tested format that works quite well. Unfortunately one of the problems with GRIPS is also anatomical. Sometimes to the actor chosen no matter how convincing and how strong a performer doesn't quite seem to have the appropriate body type to actually frolic and prance like a little child. At one such performance, many young male audience members, suddenly discovered their puberty. Soon after the performance I was at, a lot of the fathers were buying tickets for the immediate next show, while ushering their children home with their wives, neighbours or even in some cases complete strangers. Clearly that Nabokov was onto something.
  2. Wardrobe Malfunction 
    Often wardrobes that work well in rehearsal are unable to withstand the energy of a proper performance. Sometimes they get stuck in things and sometimes simply defy gravity and refuse to come down - resulting in a lovely pantomime resembling a Can-Can. Bicycle shorts are usually a good, albeit non-naturalistic second layer.
  3. If the actor changes, so should the costume
    Actor replacements are not unusual. Especially in children's theatre, where the parts are not as demanding as some adult ones. However a play is designed with a certain cast member in mind. When an understudy show happens, only the actor is changed, so that everything else can be as close to the regular show as possible. Unfortunately in one particular production, the change of cast led to the audience really seeing the outline of a cast's member. This time it was the mother's that smiled and rushed for the next show.
  4. Here's how you do it
    A lot of children's theatre is quite demonstrative. To ensure that the little cretins have actually understood what was being said, or what the action on stage was meant to mean. Especially in the case of stage fights or complicated plot points. But actors should also be a little aware on what is being demonstrated. The same deliberateness when applied to say lighting up a cigarette is often more like an instruction manual than simply a performance style. And really, was there any need to light the cigarette in the first place?
  5. Violence
    Everyone complains that everything for kids has too much violence. Films, tv shows, cartoons, video games, everything. So why shouldn't the stage. Except when an already complicated play is made even more complicated by two characters beating a third (who is playing a child) for over five minutes. The performance moved briskly from slapstick to macabre, and no matter how young or insensitive you are the image of a person being repeatedly beaten in front of you is quite hard to recover from.
That's my list...so far....if you can think of others do let me know. If you are unable to adequately disguise it and would rather it not be public, email me on qtpthescript@gmail.com and I will use my text cloaking device and add it to the existing list.