Tri-City's High School students read a new play each year in their English classes. Even freshmen are expected dig their way through Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Clearly, Theatre Arts has an influence on and off of the stage. Even students without a flair for the dramatic can benefit from time on the stage or behind it, working to improve the performance. However, the benefits of participating in drama can be much further reaching than simply the accolades of a show well-done.
Commitment: Students spend countless hours preparing for a production that may only have one or two actual showings. Students commit to months of preparation to memorize lines, build sets, find costumes, and they do it all on their own time after school. It's a huge time commitment, one that they see come fruition at last on opening night.
Communication Skills: Whether the student is a stagehand or the lead, he or she will need to communicate well with their peers and the director to learn what they need to do for the show. A miscommunication in the show can lead to forgotten lines, missed marks, and broken sets. With stakes as high as that, it motivates students to learn to become better listeners and communicators.
Self-Confidence: It takes a fair amount of gusto to belt out a song in front of your family, friends, and classmates. The risk-taking and bravery that students learn can easily translate into other areas of the student's life-including academics!
Academics: Other than learning time management as you would with all extra-curricular activities, students also tend to do better on the SATs than non-arts students! In 2005, students that were involved in a drama performance outscored non-arts students on the 2005 SAT by an average of 65 points in the verbal component and 34 points in the math component (1).
Learn to take criticism: Nobody likes to hear what they're doing wrong, but in drama, the performance depends on positively presented constructive criticism! Students are forced to hear how they can improve, which helps them to see those criticisms as opportunities for growth rather than attacks on their personal character.
Theatre Arts positively influences students in innumerable ways, all of which work together to produce a more well-rounded student. It's an art that helps build not just a better student, but empathy and community too.
"I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being." -Oscar Wilde
(1) Data for these reports were gathered by the Student Descriptive Questionnaire, a self-reported component of the SAT that gathers information about students' academic preparation, and reported by the College Entrance Examination Board. A table of average scores for arts involved students can be found at:http://www.menc.org/information/advocate/sat.html