Patience and Respect. Standing quietly backstage is not easy. It requires patience. But kids eventually learn to respect the performers on stage by not distracting them with their nervous energy. Adults usually get tired of telling kids to keep quiet, but when they get it, it’s very satisfying.
Facing your fears. Public speaking is more feared than death by most people. Theatre gives children an opportunity to face a crowd, speak in front of them, sing a song, and maybe even make them laugh. A child can forget a line or two and still be supported and loved by their audience. The reward of applause will whittle away at this fear inspiring confidence, which is the biggest medicine to fear.
Be yourself. In the theatre, everyone is welcome. Uniqueness is embraced. Are you loud? A loner? Flamboyant? It seems that kids of all demeanors are accepted as equals. The freedom to be themselves can take the world off their shoulders and create a zone of comfort that is relieving to those who feel like they don’t fit in. Also, can you think of another activity where kids are encouraged to be loud and over the top, to speak louder and be “bigger”? Most of the time, kids are asked to quiet down or be quiet. While in some instances this is true in theater, for the most part, theatre gives them an outlet to be loud and be heard.
Responsibility. Ever have the nightmare where you’re an actor, and you forget your lines? Well, if they don’t want to be embarrassed or slow down rehearsals, kids learn pretty quickly that they need to take responsibility for their part. A production is a team effort where everyone is counting on each other. When one part of the team doesn’t function well, it can cause problems. They become part of a team and everyone is counting on one another to be prepared. This includes backstage crew as well as onstage actors.
No screens allowed! While there is plenty of technology involved in theatre including tablets and phones, screens are generally not allowed backstage or at rehearsals by the performers or crew who are not using these devices as part of the production. The kids are experiencing human interaction and improving social skills, which in affect improves their interaction with the audience. So, regardless of the human interaction aspect, it’s a couple of hours a day of saving some eyesight and posture.
Improves Education. It’s no secret that children who participate in the arts not only do better academically but they also have higher test scores. The arts are a vital part of the developing brain. Kids will learn the art of language and reading in theatre. Reading isn’t exactly high on the list of many students anymore considering all that they have at their fingertips, so the art of memorizing lines and reading in theatre can activate that part of their education.
While theatre may seem difficult to fit into a child’s already busy schedule, it’s a valuable option that usually lasts just a few months and can really make a difference.