Importance of TYA from a Parent’s Perspective

“Parker has seen every show MainStreet has done since it opened ten years ago.”

This week I was looking for parents who bring their kids to MainStreet, and I found Kristie Nicols. Kristie is the Event Services Coordinator at the Lewis Family Playhouse. Theatre has always been a part of her family. She has two daughters; Parker who is 12 and Ola Mae who is 4. Ola has only seen two MainStreet productions so far, but will have many opportunities to come.

“Parker was more used to theatre because she has been exposed to theatre since she was born. I had her when I was still acting, me and my husband actually met while doing theatre.” Kristie told me.

“The first professional show Ola saw was The Three Little Pigs at MainStreet last season. This season I brought her to Elephant and Piggie. She was born when I was working the more admin side of theatre, so it took her a little longer than Parker to adjust and learn theatre etiquette. She is starting to understand better, like when she needs to be quiet and listen.”

Kristie was kind enough to let me ask her what she thought the importance of theatre is in her children’s lives.

Why do you bring your family to the theatre?

“Theatre helps build confidence and imagination in kids. It opens up a world for them that they may have never seen. Parker has been backstage with me, which is really exciting for her because she wants to go more into hair and makeup design. Seeing what happens backstage gives her an idea of where she wants to work in the future.”

Why do you think it is important to teach kids about theatre?

“Theatre is a culture that could die out if we don’t introduce our kids to it as soon as possible. [TYA] lets them keep theatre alive and cultivate a new generation of artist. Obviously there are so many educational aspects to why theatre is important as well. It is our duty as people who are in the arts and as parents to pass this on to future generations.”

Why do you think theatre as a part of education is so valuable?              

“When it comes to educating kids about theatre, it is deeper than just showing them something and asking them if they liked it. It opens up confidence and creativity which is so important. Even doctors and scientists of the future should be exposed to theatre because it’s giving them something that is so crucial. They are learning empathy and communication in ways that they wouldn’t without theatre.”

Why did you get involved with theatre?

“I saw my first play a little later in my childhood, I was in the 7th grade and we took a bus to Philadelphia to see a play about Edgar Alan Poe and I became obsessed. It was life changing, I was this weird 7th grade cheerleader that was obsessed with Edgar Alan Poe. Kids in Rancho have this amazing opportunity to have art in their community. Parents don’t realize the high quality professional work that is just for them. Not all communities have that.”

I think it is interesting that Parker wants to work backstage, most kids think of theatre as being in the spotlight, which can be a good thing or bad thing for them. How did she get involved with wanting to be backstage?

“I tried to get Parker to be in theatre and on stage, but she really loves the makeup. She learns all the theatrical makeup on YouTube and decided at 10 that that is what she wants to do with her life. I think it’s great because in 10 years she will be able to start working with a high amount of skill. She loves the aspect of helping ‘make it happen’. The idea of being a part of theatre is exciting to her. She even finds my name in the back of the program under theatre staff and points it out to me.”

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I feel like there is another aspect of theatre. When they watch something on stage and they often connect on a personal level. That is a tool for them to express themselves and communicate ideas. Seeing something on stage that strikes a chord can impassion them to pursue that idea, even if it’s in a non-artistic way.”


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