Missed connections and silver linings: researching theatre for early years audience experience during the COVID-19 pandemic

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Live performance designed for under 6s offers an out-of-the-ordinary aesthetic experience for very young children and the adults who bring them. This research draws on our knowledge of how children develop within the context of their closest relationships and brings a focus to how parents experience attending theatre for early years (TEY) with a child aged 12-36 months. Interviews and observations were analysed using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis, which was found to be a supportive method to meeting the study aims. The digital context, necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, offered unique insights into a new form of presentation. The findings show that Zoom theatre offers some mitigation to much missed live performance whilst also highlighting the irreplicable qualities of live, in-person events for families with very young children. There was potential for parent-child bonding found in sharing valued time together, opportunities for empathy, and in connecting to others. In piloting the subject area for PhD, this study found the parent experience of the TEY performance space to be varied, meaningful and rich for further exploration. Further research could include the perspectives of performers and children and investigate relationships at live, in-person events.
Date of Award3 Feb 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SponsorsUniversity of Strathclyde

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