A creative physical stage show called “30 Elephants Under the Umbrella” raised the curtain on Theater for Young Audiences on Thursday at Shanghai Children’s Art Theater.

The event, organized by The Center for China Shanghai International Arts Festival, explored topics of performance-based art education for young viewers.

Guests from both home and abroad attended forum sections at the half-day event to discuss how can they create educational activities imbedded in performance, expanding and enriching the young audience’s experience.

“Educating children and young audiences is critical for the theater business and even the whole cultural industry,” said Wang Wei, director of the programming department at the National Center for the Performing Arts, during the forum.

It’s more difficult to attract young viewers as they lose interest and focus much more easily than adults, said Wang.

Shanghai Children’s Art Theater has been paying attention to this issue too. General manager Christine Liang used their recent show “Baby Loves China” as an example. The show’s special performance, featuring Hani ethnic group culture, recently brought the group’s special cuisines and costume to the theater.

“It’s more of an immersive cultural event, rather than simply a show,” said Liang.

Paul Fitzpatrick, chief executive of Edinburgh International Children’s Festival, Rachel Lim, producer of Esplanade-Theatres on the Bay in Singapore, and Hisashi Shimoyama, producer of International Theatre Festival OKINAWA for Young Audience, also shared their thoughts on art education at the forum.

Forum focuses on young theater audiences

Ti Gong

Discussion forum at Theater for Young Audiences.

Also during the event, Chinese opera show “Baby Loves Chinese Opera” gave the audience a glimpse at various local opera forms, and invited visitors to have a try at Kunqu Opera performance themselves.

As part of China Shanghai International Arts Festival Performing Arts Fair, Theater for Young Audiences has  attracted 18 domestic and international performance companies to showcase their productions.