From earliest infancy the mind is trained to regard size as value.
Respect and admiration goes to what is big, what takes up more room.
Small stands for common and uninteresting.
Little people — little wants, little joys, little sorrows.
Impressive — a big city, high mountains, a tall tree.
We say: ‘A great deed, a great man’.
A small child is light, there is less of him.
We must bend down, reach down to him.
Even worse — he is weak. (Janusz Korczak)
In ASSITEJ there are a set of thoughts, artistic insights and pedagogical visions that are especially dedicated to children and young people. I think that these extraordinary words written by Janusz Korczak are shared by all of those people who bring ASSITEJ to life all over the world. And that all of them share as well the basic idea that “small” is not less important than “big”.
Children, since the very beginning, are sensitive and competent human beings. When we choose to introduce them to theatre, we do it because we think of them as spectators now, today.
Children are an audience today and, since their early years, they deserve high quality products created for them by professional artists, who are sensitive and capable to create a relationship with children of different ages.
All children, from their early years, should be acknowledged a full cultural citizenship. As Martin Drury from the Arts Council of Ireland says, “A child is not the fraction of an adult”. When talking about rights, a child is not 1/20, 1/10, 1/5, ? of an adult, depending on the age. A child is always one, one human being; maybe with abilities and sensitivities that are different from those of an adult, but neither smaller nor lower.
A “high” idea of the child – subject to rights, competent, sensitive. A complete human being with characteristics and capabilities that, through the years, change, evolve, disappear…
This “simple” idea is an inspiration for Small Size, because “The arts are not a matter of age but of curiosity”. And it is with these words that we would like to announce this year Small Size Days, back again on the last weekend of January 2016.
The second edition will take place from Friday January 29th to Sunday 31st: three days dedicated to shows, workshops and other activities for children from 1 to 6 years aimed at promoting performing arts for early years.
Participation in the first edition was strong: 52 activities were presented by 27 members of Small Size Network over 19 countries, from Helsinki to Mexico City, from London to Salzburg, from Bucharest to Bologna.
For Small Size Days 2016, the network will aim at enriching the quality of the offer and to open the event to external organisations, with activities in cooperation with the members of the Network. This year there will be 67 activities presented by 31 members of 23 countries, taking place in new cities such as La Paz (Mexico), Böblingen (Germany), Vicenza (Italy) and Elche (Spain), although we are still expecting more submission.
The second edition of Small Size Days will be enriched by the energy and the participation of the new members, now 54 from 28 countries and 4 continents. Step by step, Small Size keeps growing.
And 2016 will be a very important year. The Annual Assembly of the Network, taking place in Poznan (Poland) next August 26-28, will be focused on the future of Small Size: not only will focus groups discuss contents and perspectives, but also the organisation of the Association will move towards the future. In fact, in 2016 we will renew the Board of Directors, President and Vice-President. Not only will there be a change in the group of people, but also the pursuit of a growing autonomy for the Network, that until 2018 will continue to receive economic support by “Small Size, performing arts for early years”, the European Project created and run by 17 of the Network’s members. This Assembly will be a very important moment in the life of the Association that will be celebrated in a very full weekend. In fact, besides the General Assembly and the Focus Groups, Poznan will host the Artistic Directors Meeting and a Presentation of members’ current and future EY projects.
Moreover, after the beautiful experience in Berlin 2015, Small Size will be in Birmingham for the ASSITEJ Artistic Gathering 2016. For this Gathering, our focus will be on the relationship with the audience: an installation, with a selection of video footages of the audience in theatre for early years – how they sit, how they enter the theatrical space, their faces, their attention, the time, the space, the rhythm – and a challenging question: “Why do you keep doing theatre for Early Years?”. Guided by the will to avoid theatre for early years becoming a fleeting trend, but a chance, an ongoing opportunity that offers newer and newer suggestions, and to stoke – in children, parents, teachers and artists – the hunger for curiosity.
Because, using again the motto of Small Size Days, “the arts are not a matter of age but of curiosity”.
For info: www.smallsize.org