Emma Dolman, director of Cornerstone Arts Centre, Didcot, on the joys of theatre for kids...

Hello again from Cornerstone, readers – long time no write.

I hope everyone is well and enjoying the autumn – and getting out to see lots of live shows. I am sitting on the train going up to the Lyric Hammersmith to see a new children’s show by a theatre company we haven’t programmed before. The company contacted me via another theatre maker in common acquaintance. It’s great to be going to see new work. It’s not so great going up on the train at half term as it’s packed to bursting, mainly with families going to London to visit the London Eye, Madame Tussauds or The Shard.

Although there’s a little eight year-old with his elbow in my ear, it’s nice to see families going out and seeing and doing things together. And when I get to the theatre there will be lots of mums and dads taking their little ones to the show. There’s nothing like introducing children at an early age to the wonderment and life-long pleasure that live theatre can bring. I’m intending to bring my four year-old godson to our Cornerstone Christmas show The Night Before Christmas. I hope he’ll love it.

I would say this but we really do have fantastic children’s theatre at Cornerstone. Good children’s theatre is as beautifully made, carefully conceived and sensitively performed as adult theatre. I know that children’s fiction writers get – justifiably – annoyed when interviewers ask them when they are going to ‘progress’ to adult fiction. Similarly with children’s theatre it’s not something that actors, writers, directors do while they aim to ‘move on’ to adult pieces.

The other thing with children’s theatre is that it’s often fantastic to watch as an adult, even if you haven’t got your child or godchild with you. I’m very lucky that, on the occasion I can get out from behind my desk, I can go to see children’s shows in the interests of assessing whether we want to programme them. Seriously, more adults should do it. Take our recent show Little Howard’s Big Howard – the Howards are CBBC favourites – very clever stuff, really amusing for adults as well as charming for children. So amusing was it that some of our ushers who worked on the Howards’ first show said they were going to book in and see their next show with their friends, as customers.

Of course, some companies make work for both adults and children. We recently had Transport Theatre Company doing their super version of As You Like It, which Cornerstone had been on the commissioning group for. They are also making a show at the great theatre for children, the Unicorn, for Christmas. I’ll be going to see that with a view to getting their children’s work here too.

Talking of which: don’t forget Cornerstone’s Christmas show – the magical Night Before Christmas. We’ve got lots of performances, including on December 24. So make some dates in your dairy and come and enjoy a Cornerstone Christmas.