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Children’s rights

Children’s rights

26 September 2022

Children’s rights - Children's voices

Research on children's rights among English and Hungarian kindergarten children

It is an honour and really important for us to be able to reflect on children's rights with international and professionally recognised groups and experts. We have embarked on a very exciting work, with a long, deep and meaningful research and preparation preceding the creation of the puppet performance. We will continue to report on these processes and the different stages of the work on our website.

The title of our performance, based on research on children's rights is "It's so good just to be!" and is scheduled to be presented in November 2023. On our website you can find more information about the rehearsal process of our upcoming show and the research leading up to the rehearsal process.

About the research and preparations: 
Steps in the art process
How was the first version of the script written?

To the It's so good just to be!: about the rehearsal process of the performance: 

Content and background material related to children's rights: 
The united nations convention on the rights of the child – the children’s version


In the autumn of 2021, we signed a cooperation agreement with The Open University CHILDREN'S RESEARCH CENTRE and the Faculty of Child Education and Special Education at the University of Debrecen, Hungary. The project researches the livelihood contexts of children's rights, and the artistic staging of the research results (creative reflection) is the undertaking of our puppet theatre. Such a thematic project is not yet known in the European academic and artistic world, and its uniqueness is therefore attracting increasing attention from international experts. The project started in 2019 and will end in November 2023.
The research took place in England, Wales and Hungary. Its aim is to create multimodal and participatory research models that are adapted to the dynamics of early childhood practices. Research and design issues:
How do children express their rights in their everyday preschool activities? In what ways do children's rights influence pedagogical practice and artistic creative pathways? How can a children's rights-based perspective help Hungarian kindergarten pedagogical practice and artistic forms of performance?
We will prepare a puppet theatre performance based on the research material processed, and a phase will be presented here in Debrecen in October 2022 at an international conference for professionals.


The researchers will be represented by:

On behalf of The Open University:
Dr. Natalie Canning
Eleonora Teszenyi

On behalf of the University of Debrecen, Faculty of Child Education and Special Education:
Dr. Sándor Pálfi

Representing the Vojtina Puppet Theatre:
Anikó Asbóth
Terka Láposi

and Bartal Kiss Rita, Róbert Júlia, Oláh-Bebesi Bori, Arany Zoltán, Nagy Mónika, Hell Krisztina, Mercs Máté, Baditz Dávid, Nánási Barnabás.

Creators of the puppet performance:

Writer, dramaturg of the performance:

writer, dramaturg, theatre education specialist, university lecturer
As a dramaturg, her work can be seen in many theatres in Hungary and abroad (including the Katona József Theatre in Budapest, Vígszínház, the
Schauspielhaus in Graz, the Deutsches Schauspielhaus in Hamburg, the Schauspiel Stuttgart and the Vojtina Puppet Theatre).
She has been working in the field of theatre education since 2004, and as a writer she has been a regular contributor to the complex theatre education performances of the Káva Cultural Company since 2012. She is a university lecturer at the Eötvös Loránd University and at Freeszfe Association.

Director and designer of the puppet theatre production:

RITA Bartal Kiss
Blattner- and Kovács Ildikó Award-winning puppeteer, director, designer
Rita Bartal Kiss is the art director of the Griff Puppet Theatre in Zalaegerszeg, and began her art career in the 1980s at the Ciróka Puppet Theatre in Kecskemét.
She has worked as a director and designer in all puppet theatres in Hungary. She regularly performs in Hungarian-language puppet theatres in the Carpathian Basin. She has received a number of international awards for her creation of the contemporary puppet theatre form (including The Story of the Little Girl in Blue - Ciróka Puppet Theatre).
Rita Kiss captures the joy of free play in every form and set she dreams up for the stage. Her creations give a down-to-earth impression of invisible, imaginary worlds that reveal the light, charming, humorous spirit of their creator.
At the 2022 Assitej Children's Theatre Biennale in Kaposvár, the jury awarded Rita Bartal Kiss the Best Director of Children's Theatre prize for her three decades of creative work.

At Vojtina Puppet Theatre she is the project leader and co-designer of the puppet theatre production:

art and theatre teacher, ethnographer, theatre philologist
Puppet theatre maker since 1996 and art teacher for 40 years. She is constantly exploring the intersection of the two roles and the complexity of puppetry. In the staging of fairy tales, she represents the validity of a child's world view and playfulness. Her methodology and her creative work are inspired by the boundlessness of an artistic approach and the transformative possibilities of the puppet formed from material. She creates puppet performances and interactive activities for young children.
She teaches courses in theatre and puppet pedagogy in teacher training. For almost 25 years she has been one of the art directors of the Vojtina Puppet Theatre.

Composer and musician for the puppet theatre production:

composer, musician
Zoltán Arany is a true "freak" who, in addition to composing music, is an instrument collector, lyricist, researcher of ancient history, and a speaker of many languages. His collection of instruments covers all instrument families, all of which he can play. For almost 25 years his interest has been directed towards folk and medieval music. Over the last fifteen years he has been involved in many bands, where he has been introduced to different styles of music.

Summary by a researcher from The Open University (in brief), with Eleonora Teszenyi (representing The Open University, UK):

The project was born out of a conference of the National Association of Kindergarten Teachers, where teachers expressed their interest in exploring and understanding children's rights. A pre-study was carried out with six kindergartens, which gave us the opportunity to develop a toolkit to help teachers identify the situations in which children were most comfortable to express their ideas. These situations included baking, story reading, storytelling, puppetry and role play.
Drawing on the experiences of the pre-study, we also designed and implemented a main study that covered the whole country. Using a refined toolkit, teachers collected data, videos, photographs, reflections and observations, children's drawings and photographs. We worked with a large amount of data, which we processed and analysed in a three-day workshop with colleagues from the Department of Childhood Education at the University of Debrecen. Seven main themes were identified, through thematic and content analysis, in an inductive, multi-phase analysis, and these seven main themes were processed in a mosaic approach with the help of the Vojtina Puppet Theatre in Debrecen. The premiere of this will take place with the invitation of children, and on the same day we are also planning a conference for teachers and colleagues who are interested in children's rights and how they are implemented in children's daily lives. Our main aim with this project is to improve pedagogical practice and to incorporate listening to children's voices and understanding children's rights into everyday practice.

The 7 themes highlighted by the researchers, which were identified from the children's discourses that emerged, teachers' feedback, and observation records of sessions:

- freedom play: the joy of play, cooperation, children constructing new meanings 
- meaningful people: dynamics of friendships, family dynamics
- self-expression: opinions, thoughts
- environment: social, emotional, physical
- needs for existence: basic needs, physiological needs, health, withdrawal
- child autonomy: self-regulation, power relations between children
- adult dominance: teaching and controlling, adult behaviours and attitudes

4026 Debrecen, Kálvin tér 13.+36 (52)