ERIC Number: ED347600
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1992-Mar-20
Reference Count: N/A
A Developmental Comparison of Perceived Reality in Live Theatre.
A study explored perceived reality and developmental differences in viewing theater. Subjects, 33 second graders, 33 fourth graders, 23 sixth graders, and 23 college students viewed a production of "This Is Not a Pipe Dream," a non-representational play based on biographical facts about the early life and work of the surrealist painter Rene Magritte. Children were interviewed one day after theater attendance, and the college students completed an analogous written questionnaire. This open-ended, inductive method resulted in the generation and emergence of six symbol systems or theater conventions and categories of cues which resulted from asking "How do you know?" Results indicated that: (1) while focused primarily on production values, children increasingly judge a playwright's script for its social believability; (2) second graders relied on visual cues to judge actuality or authenticity; (3) fourth graders began a developmental shift in applying outside knowledge to scrutinize possibility; (4) sixth graders considered plausibility; and (5) college students suspended their disbelief by judging the context of media genres. Findings suggest that theater artists need to make production styles more explicit so that metaphoric themes become more recognizably visible and audible to predominantly novice audiences; and children and adults alike could benefit most from a theater education to better grasp theater's multi-layered symbol systems. (A schematic system of symbols in theater, a list of questions about the reality of the play, symbol systems of perceived reality, cue categories used to judge reality, and four tables of data are included; 17 references are attached.) (RS)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Perceived Reality
Note: Paper presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Southwestern Society for Research in Human Development (8th, Tempe, AZ, March 20-21, 1992).