Monday, May 16, 2016

The Value of Theater Education

Goodness, it's been a while since I posted. But with good reason. The last two or three weeks have been dominated by Crystal Sea Drama Company's production of Seussical, which my daughter was in and with which I assisted the director. As my involvement in CSDC increases, this may become the new pattern for my blog: two or three weeks of silence toward the end of every show.

It has been a crazy couple weeks. But wonderful, also. And watching all these students -- about sixty overall between the cast and all the tech crew -- reminds me of why theater is such a valuable thing for kids to be involved with.

- They learn to be comfortable with public speaking. And to be good at it: good volume, comfortable pacing, expressive delivery. I think public speaking still ranks high on the lists of people's greatest fears -- it may even be number one. But almost everyone will have some occasion to speak to a group sometime in their lives (best man toasts? praying at church?), and you may as well feel comfortable at it.

- They interact in an intimate way with art and literature. There's much to be said about exposing your kids to art: taking them to museums and shows and concerts. But there's much MORE to be said for their being actually involved in the creation of art. To let them see the whole thing from the inside out. To engage in the act of creation, one of the ways we are made in the image of God.

I think every kid in the country reads a Shakespeare play at some point in their education, but how much more impactful would that be if they were actually performing it? It is drama, after all; it's meant to be performed, not read.

- They learn empathy. When you are in a play, you become another person. You have to think what they would think, feel what they would feel, react as they would react. No better way to step into another person's shoes and see life from their perspective. Such skills transfer into the real world. And such skills are more important than I can even express here.

They learn to accept criticism and feedback with grace. Part of the rehearsal process is having the director give you feedback on your performance and learning to apply it. Without taking it personally. Without feeling like a failure. Without copping an attitude. Without resenting the critic. And that's something they will need to do for the rest of their lives.

- They learn teamwork. Those sixty kids I mentioned earlier? Only a handful of them were lead roles on the stage. Some of them had a multitude of little roles. Some of them ran spotlights. Some of them helped actors with quick costume changes. Some of them opened curtains at critical moments to make set changes go quickly so the pace of the play wasn't disrupted. Every single person was critical to the production. And the run of the show was a success because every single person took their part seriously and did it with excellence.

- They make great friends. When you spend this much time with people, you get close. You become a family. It's wonderful.

There's so much more. I'm so grateful for the time I spent in theater when I was young, and I'm so grateful for the opportunities my own children have had. If you're a parent, I urge you to find a play for your kiddos to get involved in. At least once.

And if you're a San Antonio parent, may I recommend you look into Crystal Sea Drama Company? They have a couple summer camps coming up. Well worth it.

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