Kids Week is almost here! Whether it’s your child’s first time going to the theatre or it’s already a life-long habit, it’s a very exciting time. But, it’s important you prepare your young’un for their trip to the theatre. From what to expect to how to act, there are a few things you and your little one should know and do before stepping into the theatre.
So with that in mind, here are nine important things to do to prepare your child for Kids Week.
1. Explain theatre etiquette and why it’s important to be as quiet as possible
Sometimes a child – well, everybody! – needs to let out some pent-up energy. And everybody understands that’s not your fault – it’s natural! But it’s also great to remind your child beforehand that being quiet during a performance is really important, so everybody can enjoy the show as much as them.
Explain that it’s not quite the same as watching a film – it’s live, and real people are performing on stage. The actors, stage managers, lighting engineers and everyone else needs to use their full concentration during the performance.
Luckily, West End shows have a knack for keeping kids entertained. But things like needing the loo or a bit of sickness or upset will inevitably happen from time to time, and it’s better that you and your child are comfortable and enjoy your theatregoing experience. It might be worth working out a way to communicate which won’t disturb others. It’s also important to know where all the exits and ushers are should you need them.
And, of course, there are shows that are more appropriate for younger children that need to wiggle, squirm and speak out during the show. These productions are often approximately an hour long with no interval, and packed with stimuli that will keep your child engaged.
2. Tell them there might be bangs and flashing lights
Not all shows will have them. But when they do, even adults will jump and yelp.
To prevent your child from being startled or scared, it’ll be worth checking with the show’s box office if there are any triggers that your child might react to. That’s not to say the shows are inappropriate for your child, just that they might enjoy it more if the surprises are left to the plot twists…
3. Tell them what else to expect
Dimmed lights, rounds of applause and the shuffling around you experience while trying to exit the theatre may all seem natural to you, but to a child, it can be a bit strange.
The flashing lights and loud bangs, the sudden darkness and eruption of the orchestra, plus a standing ovation, might all seem alarming. Don’t take your knowledge of the experience for granted – share with them whatever you think is necessary and appropriate.
4. Give yourself plenty of time to get to the theatre
Again, it may seem obvious. But while using public transport in central London, take it easy: give yourselves an extra half-an-hour or so and enjoy the day.
And if you have a pushchair, remember that during certain times, getting on a tube or bus will be very difficult. Remember, the more relaxed you are, the more relaxed your child will be. And we want both of you to enjoy the day!
5. Teach your kids about the theatre
We’re not talking about the date it was built and who designed it – though if you’re in the know, by all means do!
Pointing out the orchestra, the lighting rigs, the wings, the safety curtain, etc., will teach your little one a thing or two about how theatre is made and might even inspire in them a desire to work in theatre. Talk to them about the set, costumes, music and even the ushers. It all makes up one great experience. And there are so many more people involved than the actors on stage.
6. Feed your child before you go in
We know, we’re preaching to the choir. But making sure your child is fed, watered and not hyped up on sugar thanks to the intermission snacks will help your trip run smoothly.
During August, you can take advantage of our Kids Week meal deals. We have loads of partner restaurants where your child can eat FREE. All you have to do is show your theatre tickets. Click here to find all our deals.
7. Familiarise them with the source material
Many children and family shows are based on books, TV shows or films. You don’t have to know them to enjoy the show, but knowing the characters and the world the story is set might make it easier for them to understand on the day.
8. Go to the loo before the curtain goes up
Another obvious one but essential… and not just for your kid. Make sure the whole family goes to the loo before the show – not just to prevent a mid-show toilet break, but so the long lines during the interval are a bit more tolerable, too!
9. Relax, relax, relax
It’s easier said than done. But you want to make this experience memorable for the right reasons. The more relaxed and prepared you are, the more your child will enjoy the show and remember it. And so will you. The whole point of Kids Week is to help you and your family get into the habit of going to the theatre – so enjoy the magical family time! It’ll be a lot of fun – we promise!
You can still book show and activity tickets for Kids Week. To find out more and to see which shows are available, click here.