Happy World Theater Day!!!
I haven’t been in a theater production in about a year now – not since Mid Summer Nights Dream last spring. It’s still weird for me to think how long it’s been considering once upon a time I spent 15+ hours a week in the blackbox pretty much every day of the school year and then some.
Even though I’m not physically involved with theater now nearly as much as I used to be, it still holds a very special place in my heart due to everything I learned and the people I got to learn with. So I thought I’d share just a few of my favorite things I’ve learned from my involvement with theater and, to drive the point home, some evidence of how I learned it:
- Confidence – It takes immense emotional vulnerability to do both the comedic and dramatic aspects that come with performance arts.
- Empathy – Every time you take on a new character you have to get in their head to understand what it would be like to really be that person and then show others what that looks like.
- Collaboration – A cast without a team mentality is a horrible show to witness.
- Critical thinking – Building sets: where do we need to drill this hole in order to create the angle needed to support this shelf?
- Creative thinking – How are we going to make vines fall from the sky on cue?
- Quick decision making / Improvising – The certain just broke mid-show but we can’t stop the show, so how are we going to work around it?
- Verbal communication – Try memorizing 50 pages of lines verbatim…
- Non-verbal communication – Great acting often happens in the moments of silence.
- Active listening – Don’t just wait for it to be your turn to say a line, it has to feel like a real conversation where each player gives and takes off of the other.
- Fail up – After messing up tragically, getting back up because the show must go on.
- Trust – Know your scene partners will be there to do their part in making the show great, from helping if someone forgets a line to insuring the props they’re in charge of get to where they need to be, and let them trust you to do the same.
- Presence – Rocking back and forth or twiddling your hair while speaking are all distracting gestures during any presentation; theater teaches you to stand firm and make intentional physical choices to emphasize your points.
- Acceptance – Theater people are different. It’s a fairly known fact, and I love this about theater people. Everyone is welcome period.
- Managing emotions – Even on the last night of senior year, tears are for later because there’s still a show to put on.
I’m sure I’m missing items from this list, but for now, this is a good start to explaining all the things I learned that make me love theater so much. Not to mention it’s just so much fun! I’m glad that in the midst of schools going online and everything closing down, arts programs are still finding ways to connect and learn these lessons even if we can’t be physically connected in space.
I miss my theater fam new and old and all the theater nerds out there enjoy this day.