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Countdown to Cradle of Creativity Conference Applications

The call for papers to the International Theatre for Young Audiences Research Network’s (ITYARN) Conference and ASSITEJ International Focus Days at the Cradle of Creativity, in partnership with the National Arts Council (South Africa), set to take place in May 2017, will close on 15 September 2016.

ITYARN, the presenting body for academic research at the conference, was founded in 2006 to address scholarly research around theatre as an artform for young audiences in contrast to the vast amount of research focussed on process-oriented practices and its impact on education and social issues for young people. Now in its tenth year, the network body has released seven peer-reviewed publications and regularly hosts forum discussions around the world.

“The ITYARN Conference in South Africa will be ITYARN’s most extensive project to date and the first major international research conference on theatre for young audiences in Africa. We are extremely excited about the intercultural scholarly and artistic exchange and are planning for a rich program of two days with our South African partners,” says Professor Manon van der Water of the University of Wisconsin-Madison who is a founding member of ITYARN.

This edition of the ITYARN Conference is hosted in partnership with University of the Witwatersrand’s “Drama for Life” and the University of Cape Town’s Drama Department, where the programme will be situated. ASSITEJ, the international association of theatre for children and young people, is of course the catalyst for the event, and a partner in the programming.

Presenters at the ITYARN Conference will have the opportunity to have their work considered for publication, around the theme “Cradle of Creativity: Examining intercultural exchange and diversity in theatre for young audiences in Africa and the world”.

Previous ITYARN Publications include Youth and Performance: Perceptions of the Contemporary Child; Youth Theatre Journal Vol.27, number 2; and TYA, Culture, Society: International Essays on Theatre for Young Audiences. The conference is expected to attract expert researchers, practitioners and artists from around the world.

The ITYARN conference takes place on 16 and 17 May 2017, and will be followed by a series of days dedicated to various focus areas up until 27 May 2017. These “Focus Days” will allow for discussion around a particular theme in a host of formats to encourage robust conversation, and to engage artists in presenting workshops and projects in less formal settings.

The Cradle of Creativity (16-27 May) comprises a Festival, a Conference and a World Congress, all dedicated to theatre for young audiences. The multi-layered event is hosted by ASSITEJ South Africa, and will take place in Cape Town at multiple venues. In partnership with the National Arts Council of South Africa, this will be the 19th ASSITEJ World Congress and International Theatre Festival in the 52 year history of ASSITEJ International and the very first on the African continent.

For more information, visit Applications for the Conference close on 15 September 2016.

About the ITYARN Conference at Cradle of Creativity

The over-arching theme of the ITYARN conference is:“Cradle of Creativity: Examining intercultural exchange and diversity in theatre for young audiences in Africa and the world".

ASSITEJ was first created because of a desire for intercultural collaboration during the period of the cold war. In the 21st century, this desire for collaboration across borders, languages, ethnicities and personal histories seems more urgent than ever. There is a critical need to address a common international trend that has seen the dehumanization of youth through different forms of identity oppression and cultural devaluation within a context of extremism and conflict across the globe. Theatre for and by young audiences could play a significant role in helping restore dignity, respect and self-worth among young people. The conference seeks to provide a platform for theatre researchers and artists to unravel the tension embedded in a theatre of “universal values” and a theatre that encapsulates “cultural heritage.” Is it possible for a contemporary theatre for youth to enhance cultural literacy, dexterity and a deep respect for the “other”? How apt then that the 2017 World Congress is being held in South Africa, a country where this tension between ‘universality’ and ‘diversity’ is celebrated and explored through theatre.

The convenors welcome research proposals that reflect analysis and celebration of collaborations and intercultural projects about theatre for children and youth across the world. The thematic strands below speak to the exciting developments in research into theatre for and with children and youth, but are by no means fixed or isolated categories. The selection committee also welcomes an interweaving of themes in presenting a proposal.

  • Theme 1: Intercultural exchange and the child/youth in the 21st century: cultural norms and values, Theme 2: Healing/reconciliation/social change/peace through theatre
  • Theme 3: The challenges of childhood in the 21st Century – developing creative potential through theatre.
  • Theme 4: Resilience and arts practice.
  • Theme 5: Processes of Transformation, Citizenship and social justice
  • Theme 6: Interdisciplinary and integrated arts for children and youth
  • Theme 7: Aesthetics, ethics and education in theatre/arts for children and youth.
  • Theme 8: Theatre and Cognitive science.
  • Theme 9: Other

A full description of these themes can be found at

About The Focus Days at Cradle of Creativity

The Focus Days provide a concentration of presentations, workshops and discussions that speak to a particular aspect of Theatre for Young Audiences. The Focus Days include:

  • Indigenous and Contemporary forms of Storytelling for Youth (18 May) in association with DFL.
  • Music Theatre for Young Audiences (19 May).
  • Theatre for Social Change (20 May) in association with DFL.
  • Theatre for Healing (21 May) in association with DFL.
  • Theatre for Children by Children (21 May) in association with DFL.
  • Dance Theatre for Young Audiences (24 May).
  • Theatre for Young Audiences in Africa (25 May) in association with ACYTA (African Children and Youth Theatre Arena).
  • Inclusive theatre (26 May) in association with IIAN (International Inclusive Arts Network).
  • Theatre for the Early Years (27 May) in association with Small Size Network.
  • New Writing for Young Audiences (across the festival), in association with Write Local. Play Global.

Application Notes

Please note the call for proposals is for research papers, posters, symposia, panel discussion, workshops, pecha kucha, and screenings for either ITYARN Research Conference or the ASSITEJ Focus Days.

For a full application brief, please visit,

Deadline for proposals: 15th September 2016

Enquiries should be directed to:

Languages: The language of conference presentations will be English, as this is the working language of the association, but for plenary discussions every effort will be made to provide live translation in French or Portuguese.

Please visit for more information.


ITYARN aims to further research in theatre and performance for children and youth, through International exchanges of scholarly materials and discourse at conferences, symposia, and festivals. We believe that scholarly intercultural and interdisciplinary exchange, as well as a continued dialogue between researchers and practitioners, will contribute to a better understanding of the impact of theory on practice and practice on theory from multiple perspectives. Through the dissemination of international publications, peer reviewed and edited, ITYARN contributes to culture and knowledge by providing new insights and perspectives on the history, theory, practice, and perception of theatre and performance for children and youth, from theatre for babies to theatre for young adults.

ITYARN is an inclusive network, with no membership fees. For more information, go to

About ASSITEJ South Africa

ASSITEJ South Africa is a registered NPO (066-875), which operates as a networking platform for people working with or interested in theatre for children and young people. It aims to promote and foster high quality theatre for children and young people, to raise standards within the industry, to increase access and awareness, to be an advocate for the right of every child to arts education in schools, and to build relationships within the sector locally, nationally, across the continent and globally.

Members are present in all provinces include: actors, musicians, dancers, directors, choreographers, theatre educators, stage designers and dramatists, as well as theatre companies, organisations and institutions, critics and cultural journalists, cultural officers, amateur drama groups, organizers, societies and other networks.

ASSITEJ South Africa works to promote international awareness of South African theatre for children and young people, through networking, organising exchanges, touring performances, and by facilitating contacts. Members are given access to a global network of information about festivals, performances, courses and seminars all over the world, with the potential to participate in these activities.

ASSITEJ South Africa has been generously supported by the National Lottery Commission, the National Arts Council of South Africa,Rand Merchant Bank and the UNESCO IFCD. Other funders, supporters and partners include the HCI Foundation, the Distell Foundation, the City of Cape Town, Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport, the Department of Arts and Culture, BASA, the Cape Tercentenary Foundation Buz Publicity, Splitbeam Gearhouse, Copy Dog, Theatre Arts Admin Collective, the National Arts Festival, KKNK, Puppetry South Africa, The National School of the Arts and the Festival of Fame, The Arts and Culture Trust and Nedbank Arts Affinity,Institut Francaise, Alliance Francaise, Africalia, Tullow Oil, Pro Helvetia, SIDA, Goethe Institut, Bush Radio, FMR and Cape Town Television

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