In light of the uncertainty, recent protests and a follow up of last month’s blog, I’m stressing why kids need theatre classes back. Not to be disregarding sports but not every child has an interest or ability to play certain sports on offer in their locality. For many, the theatre is the equivalent to what these sporting clubs offer in terms of the following points I’ll be making and the sense of belonging that comes with it. Let’s put it this way. As a former theatre kid myself, youth theatre was my sport. Centre Stage Youth Theatre was my club, rehearsals were my training sessions and the other theatre kids were my teammates. Seeing everything going on now I’m blessed to have had my time in youth theatre go uninterrupted. Yes, sporting clubs were out of action for months too. I don’t deny that. What does not make sense is that Pennys is back open, schools can have 30 plus kids in a classroom yet pods of 10 or less teenagers can’t go to their drama class in a controlled and monitored environment.
Every Friday, I’d be looking at the clock for it to hit 3.30pm. Yes! Weekend! Drama classes tomorrow! Youth theatre was my outlet, my safe and happy place. It’s where I released any worries, frustrations and pressures from life in secondary school. Where I could forget about that stressful French class this week and put aside studying for the upcoming Science test. Everyone needs an outlet to self regulate and mind their mental health. The arts do that. Many times I’d come home feeling refreshed and worn out more than any P.E. class I had in my six years in secondary school (make that five, they swapped it for study class in sixth year).
Your childhood and especially teens are a time of self discovery and exploration of the world around you. Whether that be trying out different music and fashion styles or viewing the world a bit differently from what you’re used to. Sure this happens in school and for some in your neighborhood too, but theatre classes provide another alternative for anyone who feels they can’t do that in those places. For example, a child could be living out in the countryside, not within walking distance from town, have no one their own age in their area and may not get on with their school peers for whatever reason. Another example being, a child may not be in a safe living area to hang out and they are ridiculed in school for simply where they live. The more people you meet, the more you learn about the world. That is true for theatre too. The more characters and scenarios you explore, the more viewpoints and situations you understand and the more empathy you develop.
Arts groups are an opportunity to meet people from a different area, school or gender in some cases! I went to an all girls school but thankfully had the opportunity to interact with and meet boys in my drama classes. Not in a romantic way but in general. If I hadn’t had that interaction, college would’ve been a lot harder than it was when it came to interacting with the opposite gender. I mean, most workplaces are not all gender so why have all gender schools (ok, that’s another story!). In saying that, youth theatre was where I first fell in love and made me realise what I wanted (and didn’t want!) in a partner.
Warm ups, spatial awareness, thinking on your feet, language skills, technology, problem solving, planning, active communication, time management, collaboration, and public speaking. All these useful and transferable skills that you learn in youth theatre come into play in adulthood in work and in life.
So in case you haven’t noticed, I am all for starting drama classes again. Our kids need them. Seeing kids talking of how much they miss their classes, their friends and crying on the six o’clock news is something I wish to not see again cause I know how they feel. It’s their safe space, their vocation and their passion. Let’s give it back to them.