By: Danica Taylor, Marketing/PR Intern
When you imagine an evening at the theatre, you probably picture an entertaining night out spent relaxing and watching a story unfold, taking you away from reality for a few hours. What you may not realize is that theatre is more than entertainment. Theatre is a unique, immersive learning experience for audiences of any age.
Today, an increasing number of communities are realizing how important theatre is to children’s development. The number of theatres catering to youth across America is increasing, and the professional quality of many companies has shown patrons that theatres for young audiences are worthy of respect. Taking your family to see a show is certainly an exciting, memorable experience, but being exposed to the arts is beneficial in many other ways. We have compiled a list of reasons illustrating why taking your child to a live performance is so important.
SCHOOL PERFORMANCE. Research from UCLA’s Graduate School of Education by Dr. James Catterall shows that students who are exposed to the arts are more likely to be involved in community service, and are less likely to drop out of school. Studies by neuroscientists have shown that both the left and right hemispheres of the brain need to be fully stimulated in order for the brain to utilize its true potential. This means that it is just as important to immerse children in creative activities that exercise the right brain, as it is to immerse them in scientific and analytic activities for the left-brain. If children are exposed to additional performance arts, they will actually be working toward more effective thought processes.
CREATIVITY. Performing arts teach children how to think creatively through imagination. Creative thinking skills are critical in the world of business leaders, where the ability to create solutions to problems is a necessary and valued asset. Robert A. Iger, Chairman and CEO of the Walt Disney Company, has said that the heart and soul of a company is creativity and innovation. Without creativity, there is nothing that makes an organization unique. Creative skills are one of the most important skills needed to be successful in any industry.
CULTURE. Through theatre, audiences are immersed in stories about characters from every background imaginable. Live shows teach children how to appreciate people of all kinds and how to respect other points of view. At The REP, each production brings a story with a unique viewpoint, ranging from stories about ballerinas, Siamese cats, siblings, new students, and elves, cultures and characters from all over the world are explored. Additionally, characters from historic time periods give viewers a chance to learn about events and people from the past. Not only is it important to learn about different kinds of people and aspects of life, but these shows also give a glimpse into other people’s lives. Theatre allows you to step into someone else’s shoes and see life from their point of view. This teaches young people lessons of empathy and cultural relativity.
PATIENCE. Bringing your child to a theatre for the first time may be a challenging experience. Children may not realize how different live theatre is from sitting in front of a TV or even the movie screen. Watching television has become an extremely popular form of entertainment for children. Because of how frequently children watch TV, they are not used to focusing on one thing for an hour and a half. Theatre helps children adjust to not seeing a new image every 3-4 seconds, and to realize that something can be entertaining and engaging without a constant change of scenery. They will learn how to sit quietly, respect others, and pay attention.
MORALS. Plays and musicals illustrate many different lessons. For example, The REP’s recent production of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer The Musical taught lessons about staying true to who you are, as well as lessons of friendship. The REP’s current show, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, looks at family life and how to cope with trouble caused by siblings. Theatre is a safe way to expose kids to difficult situations and show them firsthand how to handle these situations.
COMMUNICATION. Theatre exposes young people to new vocabulary and ways of communicating. Through the arts of dance, acting, and music, children learn how to communicate in a variety of unique ways. Another upcoming production from The REP, Junie B. Jones The Musical, is a classic story that illustrates how to communicate in a school setting. Learning how to communicate with new friends while watching performers express themselves through song and dance is a one-of-a-kind learning experience.
IMAGINATION. Children need imagination to grow, create, think, and play. Theatre is the single most valuable place where kids can explore the endless possibilities of their imaginations and what they can do. Skippyjon Jones, an upcoming musical in The REP’s 2015 – 2016 season, is a creative, unique show that exemplifies how important it is to celebrate your imagination.
Without theatre, children not only miss out on an amazing artistic experience, but they lose the chance to experience an endless amount of learning opportunities. With exposure that not only raises school performance, but also encourages creativity, culture, communication, patience, morals, and imagination, an afternoon at the theatre is something that cannot be overlooked.