Mark Radvanís 1980 'Youth Theatre: An Essay'

Mark Radvan’s Youth Theatre: An Essay had been commissioned and prepared by Theatre Workshop, and was sent out as the Lowdown supplement with the fourth issue for the year. The essay was highly influential – for the first time a rigorous attempt had been made to articulate Australian youth theatre as a concept, outline its characteristics and value, differentiate it from other youth-oriented drama and list the resources needed for it to occur.

In placing developmental drama practice within the context of Australian youth culture, Radvan rejected the idea of young people as being incomplete human beings needing constant direction by ‘expert’ adults. ‘I’m sure that as a society we completely underestimate the capacity of young people for intelligent, creative, self-directed activity. We seem to almost perversely deny them an opportunity to contribute their gifts to society, but wait until boredom and idleness have atrophied them, before attempting to put them to use'.

Radvan’s essay, along with appendices by Radvan, Derek Nicholson and Michael Doneman, anticipated a youth arts practice with significant ownership by the young people themselves. The theory that would underpin this practice would continue to develop over the coming decades, particularly in Queensland.

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