Play-along project ‘Bear’

A bear is loose in the big city, he is on the run. Different people take care of him. Should he adjust? Should he be arrested and deported? The Youth Theatre Zuid-Holland presents, in collaboration with 50 talented youngsters from theatre schools in Zuid-Holland, the family musical show ‘Bear’ written by Guus Kuijer with music by Diederik van Vleuten.

The theme is more relevant than ever. The arrival of refugees has sharpened thinking about the integration of foreigners. Equal opportunities is not always the case in a community known for its cultural diversity. Children also experience this every day at school and in their neighbourhood. Children are often much less aware of differences in skin colour or origin, but are confronted with it through the world of adults. What is different frightens us. The big question is: are we able to live peacefully together and embrace differences? The central theme throughout the ‘Bear’ theatre performance is the question of how children think and act about this subject – in an accessible and cheerful manner.

Participation concept

There are often financial, physical and social barriers for children from deprived areas to visit a theatre performance, let alone take part in the activities in a theatre. This is why Youth Theatre Zuid-Holland has devised a participation concept around ‘Bear’. In each performance, 12 (disadvantaged) children from primary education have the opportunity to participate in the show. In collaboration with the theatre, a Bear Hunt is organised for these groups of children at the primary schools in the relevant areas. The children register in advance and are offered a number of workshop days to get to grips with their part in the performance. Of course, parents and siblings will receive free tickets to visit the show in which their family member performs. The Heutink Foundation offers financial support to this specific part of the ‘Bear’ programme: play-along children.

Playing along ensures connection

A number of school theatre clubs have been set up by Youth Theatres in Alphen aan den Rijn, Capelle aan den IJssel, Gouda, Leiden, The Hague and Rotterdam. The play-along project is used as an important instrument for removing thresholds and establishing new connections. The children at the school theatre clubs work together with children and young people at the Youth Theatre, who often come from another social class. Participants in the play-along project are found in the lesson groups and school theatre clubs in the Youth Theatre’s own teaching locations and in The Hague and Rotterdam. The other theatre clubs, together with the local theatre, search for young talent in other art centres, youth theatres, dance and music schools and so forth.

The Youth Theatre Zuid-Holland wants to be an example to other theatres with this ‘all-in musical family performance with participation concept’. An exciting and educational interaction; professionals and amateurs, young and old, different ethnic groups performing wonderfully together in a play about socially important topics.

The premiere is on 2 November 2019 in Gouda followed by 40 performances throughout the Netherlands. Click here for more information and bookings.