The Importance of Theatrical Opportunities

Dramatic Arts education is an important means of stimulating CREATIVITY IN PROBLEM SOLVING. It can CHALLENGE STUDENTS’ PERCEPTIONS about their world and about themselves. Dramatic exploration can provide students with an outlet for emotions, thoughts, and dreams that they might not otherwise have means to express. A student can, if only for a few moments, BECOME ANOTHER, explore a new role, try out and experiment with various personal choices and solutions to very real problems-problems from their own life, or problems faced by characters in literature or historical figures. This can happen in a SAFE ATMOSPHERE, where actions and consequences can be examined, discussed, and in a very real sense EXPERIENCED without the dangers and pitfalls that such experimentation would obviously lead to in the “real” world. This is perhaps the most important reason for Dramatic Arts in schools.

Still, there is far more that Drama can do. At the center of all Drama is COMMUNICATION. Like all the arts, Drama allows students to communicate with and understand others in new ways. Drama also provides training in the very PRACTICAL aspects of communication so necessary in today’s increasingly information-centered world. Students who have participated in Dramatic activities are less likely to have difficulty SPEAKING IN PUBLIC, will be more PERSUASIVE in their communications, both written and oral, will be better able to put themselves into others’ shoes and relate to them, and will have a more POSITIVE, CONFIDENT SELF IMAGE. Participation in Dramatic activity requires SELF CONTROL and DISCIPLINE that will serve the student well in all aspects of life. Students in Drama will learn to WORK TOGETHER, to cooperate, to find the best way for each member of a group to contribute, and to listen to and accept the viewpoints and contributions of others.

In addition to its intrinsic educational value, Drama can REINFORCE the rest of the school curriculum. Since communication and empathy are central to Drama, a student who has explored like in the Drama classroom will be better able to UNDERSTAND IDEAS in History and Current Events. He will be able to put himself into the shoes of figures in history and literature, to UNDERSTAND THE WAY HUMAN BEINGS INTERACT. The link between Dramatic Arts and subjects such as English, History, Social Studies, and related areas is obvious. The study of literature would be impossible without Drama. There are important periods of our collective literary history in which virtually all of the surviving literature is dramatic. More importantly, Drama can be used to promote ACTIVE LEARNING in any subject-to give students a KINESTHETIC and EMPATHETIC understanding as well as an intellectual understanding of a topic. Studies have shown again and again that this approach yields greater DEPTH OF UNDERSTANDING and a marked improvement in retention.

Theater is not just for the outgoing. There are many ways for children to participate even if they aren’t interested in the spotlight. Your child can play an ensemble role – a face in the crowd or a voice in chorus – which gives him stage time without the pressure. If she/he never, ever wants to be on stage, find out about backstage crew positions – building the sets, controlling the lights, managing the costumes. At many schools, there are tons of would-be actors, but never enough crew members, and without the crew, the actors would be lost!