The ability to be creative and freely express emotions through the medium of theatre can be liberating. Theatre education is one of the most important means of stimulating creativity in children. Unlike a dance or a music class where a child is taught the art form with the right and wrong ways, theatre allows the child to explore, make mistakes and learn from them.
Exploring drama as an art form can provide students with an outlet for shedding inhibitions and articulate their thoughts and dreams that they might not otherwise do. A child can for a few moments, become someone else, try out and experiment with various personal choices and come up with their own solutions to very real problems from their lives using role play.
Theatre for better communication
Theatre is also the key to communication skills. Like all the art forms, it allows students to communicate effectively and helps them understand others in a new light (empathy). Students who have participated in drama-related activities are less likely to have difficulty speaking in public, will be better able to put themselves in others' shoes and relate to them. They will learn to work together, co-operate and find the best way for each member of the group to contribute. Children involved in theatre will imbibe the qualities of listening to one another and accepting the viewpoints and contributions of others. No art form is more truly collaborative. Therefore, they learn how to work in a team.
What it takes to be a theatre artist
Learning dance makes one a dancer and learning music makes one a musician. But theatre is different. There is a misconception among parents that theatre is only for children who are interested in acting or those who want to become actors. Apart from granting them a stage to show their skills, theatre also works on the holistic development of a child. Theatre can be taught to children through various art forms such as puppetry, mime, shadow theatre and so on. The child learns cognitive skills, leadership skills, social and emotional skills, language skills etc. using theatre as a methodology. The learning process is always exploratory and that enables the child to create more rather than just learn.
Most theatre artists don’t really have a formal education in theatre. As much as becoming an actor does not need a certification, theatre workshops help them enhance their skills and have perspectives on any profession in theatre. Also, a career in theatre does not mean only acting. It includes everything from being a writer, director, costume designer to light and sound designer, set designer, artist manager, producer etc. All these roles will need relevant coaching just as an engineer or an MBA goes through a formal education.
Benefits of theatre for a child
There are various skills that children can imbibe by learning drama. These are some of them :
- Psychomotor: Developing perceptual and expressive skills and techniques.
- Cognitive: Assimilating knowledge and developing thinking skills.
- Affective: Cultivating positive attitudes towards art and the discipline or about themselves in relation to art.
- Aesthetic: Deriving pleasure from a combination of senses, emotions, intellect, philosophy, imagination and spirit.
Be it problem solving, public speaking or learning the English language, the medium of theatre can be of great help in all these activities. Theatre-based methodologies ensures children get things imprinted in their minds in an experiential pattern that lasts longer and easily supports innovation in the later stages of their lives. Given the valuable lessons that a child will get from learning this art form, actually becoming a theatre actor becomes secondary.
The author is Academic Dean of Happy Cow/Evam.