The modern teen will have a range of activities available to them: sports, arts, crafts, adventures and other skills development activities. The choice is great and, to be honest, different people will get different rewards from taking part. With each activity there will be pros and cons depending on each situation. The pros and cons are generally along the lines of: will it be enjoyable?; will they developer their interests and passions?; will it have a positive effect on their lives in general?; will other aspects of their lives such as school suffer?; is it expensive?… There are a lot of questions.
Let’s take a couple of those questions and try and answer them based on what we know:
Will School works suffer from the extra activities?
The arts get a bad rap sometimes from adults that feel that it’s a waste of time. The phase, “it’s great as a pastime, but it won’t help you get a job” is often trotted out. Perhaps, not directly, but in truth that can be said for most subjects in isolation. Looked at as part of the bigger picture of a holistic education, Drama and Theatre skills can be as beneficial as science, maths and languages.
According to Gai Jones writing for education.com, “Theatre addresses the skills which benefit children’s education and development in five general areas: physical development / kinaesthetic skills, artistic development / drama and theatre skills, mental development / thinking skills, personal development/intra-personal skills, and social development/interpersonal skills.”
Also, research carried out by artsedge.kennedy-center.org & UCLA would support the argument that involvement in drama and theatre will actually help improve a teens academic performance.
In terms of carers, theatre skills are now been recognised as a great starting point for careers in law, front-line professionals such as teachers, doctors, nurses and the whole hospitality and service industries. Companies are now starting to invest in training staff and management in the areas of dramaturgy, public speaking, improvisation and empathising, etc… Having drama in now a serious advantage to teens and give life skills that they will benefit from over and over again.
What about Emotional Development?
The fear of “public speaking” usually occupies one of the top three position in the polls of “People’s Biggest Fears”. It shares positions with death, flying and heights. The fear is mostly based on the thought of everybody taking notice of you, and listening to what you have to say. In some cases you will be speaking personally while other times you will simply be speaking on behalf of a third party or reciting lines. In any case, it is hard to imagine that you will not be judged (positively or negatively) and therefore there is an emotional avalanche potentially hurtling towards you. An ability to deal with this is based on an ability to deal with your emotions.
Teens that take part in drama are better able to deal with disappointment (they are risk takers and are prepared for the outcomes), they know that they are part of a team effort and not everyone will get to play the lead.
Acting can help Improve Self Awareness
Drama and acting requires people of all ages to study text and examine characters. Actors need to examine a role and look at how the character thinks and makes their decisions. The actors need to understand how and why a character interacts with another character. An actor’s needs to appraise all these things and then make decisions on how that person should be presented.
These skills are regularly practised in drama classes and they help teens better understand their own lives. Drama gives teens an ability to learn naturally with techniques such as improvisation helping decision making, problem solving and ability to work with other in a empathetic and productive way.