This year YABI Children’s Theatre of the Department of Child Development and Family Studies presented “Vanishing Van Dusty: The Way Back Home” in four elementary schools located in Yilan County and Hualien County, which ended on March 22. They then added two more performances at Tzu Chi University on March 27 and March 28. This is the seventeenth year in which YABI Children’s Theatre has offered their annual presentations to the public.
YABI Children’s Theater has been bringing up family education issues at rural schools for several years. “Vanishing Van Dusty: The Way Back Home” addressed the effects of misusing electronic devices as its main theme this year, and explored why children get addicted and how their parents’ have reacted. YABI Children’s Theatre’s lead screenwriter Yi-Tong Chen said: “Two leading actors looked into the issues and addressed them, so that audiences may compare their daily lives with the actors’ performances, which helped children and parents to make better choices. These performances have successfully triggered parents’ and children’s reflections. Hopefully, they will come up with their own solutions to deal with this addiction.”
After its press conference on March 2, 2021, the YABI Children’s Theatre gave their first performance at Fenglin Elementary School in Hualien County on March 9, then at Yucai Elementary School in Yilan County on March 15, at Ruisui Elementary School in Hualien County on March 19, and at Wenlan Elementary School in Hualien County on March 22.
To give their performances, the students needed to go to the various schools and faced different challenges, since each school’s stage, lighting, and sound equipment were different. The students were flexible in making adjustments; however, they did encounter a big challenge at Ruisui Elementary School.
Ruisui Elementary School’s auditorium was very small, and was unable to accommodate large equipment to be moved in, so the students decided to give their performance in an outdoor court. Xin-Yu He, the YABI Children’s Theater stage director said: “We built a stage, and used available materials, such as trash bag and bulletin boards, to separate the back stage, side stage and main curtain. Moreover, during their performance, the actors on stage and backstage members had to hold the temporary side curtains, which were garbage bags, in order to keep them from falling down. On several occasions, strong winds caused a part of the side curtains to fall down. Fortunately, the audience members were very involved in the play and didn’t notice them. We were happy to end this performance without causing any embarrassments.”
Many guests from Hualien County Government and Tzu Chi University attended the performances held at Tzu Chi University. Performing at Tzu Chi University made the team members feel very nervous, although they were quite familiar with the facilities. The young audiences’ ages varied greatly, from infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, to elementary school students, which was a challenge. Moreover, many students’ parents and relatives came to Hualien to attend this event, which made the students feel very nervous. The whole team steeled their nerves to face their final performances.
After their first four performances, the students were able to gradually grasp the essence of dramatic effect, and since the University’s stage, lighting, and sound effects were much better, they were more capable of bringing up the intense and obvious dramatic effect at the University. The two University performances attracted more than 700 people. Due to the need for epidemic prevention, audience members were required to sit apart; however, the team’s members were able to interact with audiences more freely.
Many parents and their children showed up at the University performances. The play depicted parents who were unable to spend time with their children as a key reason for their children becoming addicted to electronic devices. The play encouraged parents to spend more time with their children and cherish the moments they are together. At the same time, it reminded children to use electronic devices in a smarter way.