Studying theatre can be a great starting point for careers such as teaching, law, and politics, not to mention broadcasting and performing. If this is the case why are classes in the performing arts the first classes on the chopping block when budgets get tight.
This week I had the opportunity to speak to the local school board about adding a theater course to the high school catalog. Classes in theater are often considered “fluff” in the educational world. I wish I could convince school authorities and students alike that courses in theater help students develop skills, traits and qualities of personality that will increase their opportunities in the future… whether or not they continue in theater.Oral Communication Skills
Many theater students develop the confidence to speak clearly and thoughtfully. Acting teaches a student how to be comfortable speaking in front of a large audience. Working on a crew teaches a student the importance of communicating precisely and clearly and in an organized fashion.
Creative Problem Solving Abilities
Most people expect theater students to be creative in acting, designing, play-writing or directing. They may not realize that theater classes help a student to learn creative problem solving techniques that apply to any job! As an example, tech theater (building scenery, hanging lights, making props, running the show, etc.) is a particularly good way to learn how to think on your feet, to identify problems, evaluate a range of possible solutions, and come up with a solution. Learning to problem solve in a creative way can be directly applicable to virtually any job.
More than “get it done”
Theater students learn that just “getting it done” isn’t enough. It goes beyond that. You learn to do it correctly. Whatever you responsibility in theater – tech, performing, research, management – it has to be done right. You learn to take pride in doing things at your very best. What future employer isn’t looking for that? Theater students are often given special projects (a production stage manager, a designer, a crew chief). Other classes rarely offers anything even close to the lessons learned with these kinds of responsibilities. These responsibilities in theater teach help students to learn from their mistakes and become better leaders who can “get it done!”
Motivation and Commitment
Being involved with theater demands commitment and motivation. Success comes to those who are committed.
Theater teaches you how to work effectively with different types of people – often VERY different types of people. Theater demands that participants work together for a productions success. There is no room for “us” and “them.” The diva/star is SO in the past. It’s an ensemble thing. It is important that each person supports the other involved. Future employers are looking for employees that can work well with others. In theater students discover that a successful production requires contributions from everybody. Mutual respect is expected. Theater teaches students to respect and trust the abilities and talents of their fellow participants. Employers appreciate employees who demonstrate the ability to work cooperatively and respectfully.
Theater also teaches you to work independently. Crew chiefs, Directing. Putting together a flat. Finding a prop, working on characterization outside of rehearsal. Theater students are often asked to complete an assignment without supervision. Theater also helps students become “self-starters.” Theatrical productions demand students to voluntarily take on tasks needed for a production to succeed. The ability to work independently is a valuable trait future employers are looking for.
Respect for Authority
Only one person can be in charge of given portion of a production. Eventually “the buck stops here.” The director. The tech director. The designer. Students in theater learn to accept and respect authority. Employers are definitely looking for respect for authority within their employees.
Time Budgeting Skills
Theater students are forces to learn how to budget their time. Students need to carefully schedule their days to keep up with grades, rehearsals, work calls, and other demands. Tardiness is never acceptable in theater. It shows a lack of self-discipline and a lack on consideration of others. Being late to rehearsal or “call” or failing to finish an assigned task on time is a set back for the production. Theater demands that students learn to arrive on time and meet scheduled deadlines. Good time management skills and promptness are very important to employers.
Ability to Learn Quickly and Correctly
Whether they are memorizing lines or learning technical aspects of a production, student who participate in theater must have the ability to absorb information quickly and accurately. That’s a valuable trait that all employers can agree is desirable! Part of this skill is the ability to LISTEN! If you don’t listen, you are mostly likely going to make a major mistake. Listening is a skill for any job. Along with learning and listening skills, students involved in theater are “good followers.” Theater teaches the importance of rules, a concept valued in every organization.
Theater students must be adaptable. Theater students need to be willing to try new ideas, new challenges, and to adapt to ever changing conditions and situations. To role… no job… is every the same. Everyone auditions. Everyone gets equal chances to try new things. Every show could offer a different responsibility or assignment. One time you are a stage manager. Next time you are assigned to props or stage crew. Next you may have the lead or you many not be cast at all. Theater teaches students to be versatile and flexible.
The Ability to Bounce Back From Disappointment
Theater people deal with many dashed hopes and dream and rejection regularly. Not everyone gets the part they wanted. Not everyone gets the assignment they hoped for. In theater you learn to accept all kinds assignments and you move on. You try again. You polish skills. You try again. Employers want employees who bounce back.
The Ability to Work Under Pressure
Theater is demanding. Theater has long hours. These long hours can take a toll on everyone… people need to work on maintaining a cooperative and positive attitude while under immense pressure and strict deadlines. The ability to remain calm under pressure is an asset… in life and for a future job.
Focus and Concentration
Acting classes stress concentration. Seriously. A valuable skill. Trust me!
Seriously! Theater students learn to find enjoyment in what they do!
Theater students learn to use their voices, bodies, minds and hearts to make magic! Theater classes are more then entertainment. Theater classes are excellent training for virtually any job!