This summer, the highest temperature in Antarctica exceeded 20 degrees Celsius. Will the Chinstrap Penguin in the World Conservation Union’s Species List still remain on the “non-dangerous” list? Extremely high rainfall swept cities of northern China, we all joked that the map was “reversed”. This should have been the rainy season in southern China; I still remember that 2019-2020 witnessed the worst bushfires in Australia, animals could not escape from the fire and endured hunger and high temperature. Nearly 3 billion animals died or displaced….
Of course, in addition to these stressful environmental issues, we must also face the daily statistics of the COVID-19. The outbreak of the global epidemic has affected almost every industry, however, I firmly believe that TYA can play a role in the “regenerating” the world now. As practitioners of children’s drama, what can we do?
Firstly, from the TYA creation itself, the scriptwriters of the China National Theatre for Children, the theatre I work for, have always remain care and love for nature. “Tr-e-e” , created by Ms. Feng Li in 2015, tells the story of a ginkgo tree in the forest, which was transplanted to the city. It was bumpy all the way, separated from hometown, from partners, and from friends, from itself. Through every migration and separation of this small tree, people gradually find that the familiar world around them is constantly changing and becoming more and more environmental friendly.
Ms. Feng once said: “I hope that all children who have watched this play can maintain a gentle heart towards the world, and make the world warm and beautiful, and more habitable for human beings……” At the debut, a sixth-grade girl said: “This tree will grow in my heart from now on!” Not only this one, “The Adventures of Fireflies” is also like a seed of the “regenerating” of ecology. It does not simply implant the ecological concept to children, but starts from the life course of a small firefly, allowing children to experience the harmony between man and nature. Just like the green light behind the fireflies, it originates from nature and illuminates the night. I believe that not only us, but also children’s drama creators all over the world are working hard to “make the world a better place”. We also look forward to seeing and sharing more of these works with children both online and offline.
Secondly, from stage or drama education classroom, we could do more. A few years ago, the backstage and production department of the Svenska Teatern (Helsinki, Finland) left a deep impression on me. An old gentleman wearing a “Super Mario” uniform was busy in the backstage. He told us: “The performance season has just ended. I am detaching the props of this play. The materials can be used for the production of next play.” Beside, the clothing room exudes a faint fragrance, and the costumes of the 1970s are still stored, and the neckline is marked with the actor’s name and size. These costumes can be “worn” on stage again. Props and costumes can be “regenerated” on stage, and drama can also be “sustainable.”
In Beijing, garbage sorting, low-carbon living, green travel, sewage treatment, and ecological protection have all become the topic of children’s drama experience in schools, communities, and off-campus training classes. They have begun to use waste materials to make props and use environmental protection knowledge to make productions. In such a drama, there may not be magnificent stage effects, gorgeous costumes and props, and no professional actors to interpret the roles, but what is not lacking is the sincerity, enthusiasm and devotion of children to understand the earth and solve environmental problems. If we continue to do so and carry out environmental drama practice in more regions, or even remote places, maybe it is not necessary to worry about the “regenerating” of the earth and human beings at all!
The epidemic has slowed down the development of TYA. Thus we have more time to think about the future of TYA and discuss how the TYA and the world can move forward in harmony. Fortunately, we are TYA practitioner, because our work is closely related to the future of mankind and the earth, and our work is cultivating the future.
Sun Ming, the international coordinator of China National Theatre for Children, work for TYA international exchange 7 years, passion for making more cooperation between China and the world.