Date of Award

Summer 1987

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Billow, Debra Sue


There is a tendency to think of children's theatre as a marginal art, an easier genre that does not require the same level of skill or production values as the adult theatre. In part, this lack of regard stems from the belief that most children's theatre is, in reality, creative dramatics. The two genres are actually quite different and distinct. creative dramatics is concerned with drama created by children, for children, with the focus on the process not the end result, on the participants not on the spectators. This is recreational drama and a performer-centered activity. Children's theatre, the subject of this research, is a formal theatrical experience in which a play is performed for an audience of children by adults, a spectator-centered activity deserving of the same respect, professionalism, and dedication as any other form of theatre. The purpose of this thesis specifically is the examination of two production styles, traditional and participatory, and how they may be utilized in children's theatre. To appreciate ·both sty~es one must first have a basic understanding of the historical development of children's theatre; how these forms have become the predominate presentational devices for children's theatre and why a controversy has arisen between the proponents of each style as to the better method for bringing theatre to children. Of particular interest to the researcher is the techniques employed by the director in a college/university setting and how directorial communications with the cast and technical staff differ depending on the production style to be utilized. To more fully appreciate the elements involved in each style and how these effect the working of the director, in relation to the actors and the technical staff, examples from Aurand Harris's Androcles and the Lion will be used for explanatory and comparison purposes.