I’ve read lots of articles on the topic of youth theatre and its importance, but a lot of them tend to be really wordy and quite highfalutin’, with lots of fancy theories and big words. This article talks about the importance of children’s theatre, but that’s a different topic altogether — children’s theatre tends to lean towards adults performing FOR children, versus theatre performed BY youth.
I think that an arts education is extremely important and beneficial for young people… and, in simple terms, here are just a few of the reasons why.
It’s a creative outlet — and a challenging one at that.
Kids need a way to be able to express themselves and their thoughts and views on the world. What better way than through theatre? It challenges them to open their minds, explore different worlds through scripts and scores and characters, and to be able to tell a story in a variety of ways — through words, song, mime, tableau, puppetry… the list goes on and on.
They’re learning a huge host of skills.
Very few kids who participate in youth theatre (community, school or otherwise) go on to become professional actors. It’s a ridiculously hard industry to break into. But there are so many other important skills that they’re learning that can be used in their everyday lives, no matter what profession they decide to pursue in the future, such as…
- Reading and reciting from scripts, which increases their verbal and literacy skills.
- Working with a director/musical director/choreographer, which increases their listening skills.
- Many theatre companies offer volunteer opportunities, such as being a stage manager, technical operator, or usher, which gives actual job skills training that can be used towards careers behind the scenes or in the business side of theatre.
- When they’re practicing for an audition, they’re learning research and preparation skills, and learning how to take steps into achieving a goal.
- When they perform in front of their peers or an audience, they’re learning self-confidence and bravery.
- When they get cast in a plum role, they’re learning how to accept their achievements with grace.
- When they don’t get the part they want (or get cast in the show at all), they’re learning to deal with disappointment.
- When they’re practicing their lines and rehearsing their choreography at home, they’re learning about the importance of giving your best effort and not letting down your teammates.
- When they’re learning dances and stage combat, they’re practicing hand/eye coordination.
- When they’re cast in a show with kids they don’t know or don’t like, they’re learning how to deal with others.
- When they realize that they have a project due in class the day before off-book day, they’re learning about time management.
- When something goes wrong onstage (which it inevitably does in the theatre!), they’re learning how to deal with the unexpected, how to stay cool in an emergency, how to roll with the punches and keep the show going on!
Being in a cast together creates incredibly strong bonds over a very short period of time. When you’re working together with a group of like-minded people to create a cohesive piece of work, it’s kind of inevitable. Theatre people don’t always fit in with people outside of the theatre. We’re thought of as eccentric, dramatic, odd, spacey, airy-fairy. Some people don’t understand the long hours spent at the theatre (“I can’t, I have rehearsal” is a common phrase uttered by theatre people) and the many hours of work required outside of rehearsal. But a big group of kids all obsessed with the latest Broadway offering who randomly breaks into song and dance in the middle of the sidewalk? They get it, and they get each other. Insta-friends.
I’m so proud to have met and worked with so many extraordinary young people at Original Kids Theatre Company. I have seen kids grow from shy “itty-bitties” into confident, capable young men and women, who are going to go on to do great things. So what are you waiting for? Join a theatre company today.
Photo Credits: Vicki Cocco, Malcolm Miller, Bryan Nelson
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