Theater as 21st Century Skills

Love this post, “Four Reasons Theater Should be a Core Subject in Schools” by Madison McAllister about why theater should be a required subject in school. I’d go a little deeper than the author as to my reasons why.

Yes, it’s good a good outlet for emotions. Yes, it’s builds great people skills.

Theater also teaches the basics of 21st Skills: Creativity, Collaboration, Communication and Critical Thinking.

21st Century Skills

At its most basic level, theater hits all these skills.  Whether onstage or offstage, theater builds useful life skills.

Onstage: actors have to create a character. They think critically about the character they are playing and find a away to communicate the character and the story to the audience. In order to do this, they must collaborate with others – whether this is another actor, a director, lighting person, stage manager, whatever.

Offstage: directors, set designers, stagehands all have to use these four skill sets as well.

Critical Thinking

The first step of any production is to read the script and think about the characters. What is their intent? What is their backstory? Why do they say the lines? How do they say the lines? How are they feeling? Actors often create backstories for their characters that require them to dig much deeper than the script presented.

What else do you need to know about the setting? How do you analyze the location? What time period is it set in and how does that impact the characters? The sets? Costumes?

Creativity

Theater is inherently creative -and perhaps that’s why people are uncomfortable with it in schools. Each actor creates a different interpretation of a character, and how do you grade that? (Maybe you DON’T!!!) How do you assess it if it isn’t  a number?

Actors, designers, directors all create the production from their imagination. How do different costume choices impact the show? How do you create emotion? How do you design a set to give the appropriate feeling?

Collaboration

Theater is never done by yourself. Even a one-person show requires more people. Actors collaborate with other actors, with directors, designers, stage managers and backstage staff. Talk about a deadline – the show opens! You have an audience. You have to work with the team in order to get the show to open.

Once the show opens, there is another collaboration – this time with the audience. The presence of an audience changes a show and it’s crucial to collaborate with that audience -not to alienate.

Communication

It’s all about communication! From the basics of communicating a story to an audience to delving deep into a character, theater is communication at its best.

From start to finish, many forms of communication are essential. Written: script, programs, marketing. Visual: set, costume design. Oral: delivering lines, giving/receiving direction. It’s all there!

But I don’t DO Theater!

I know, not every kid wants to be on stage. But guess what – not every kid wants to be a biologist, a mathematician, a historian. Yet, all those subjects are required. Why should theater not be there? You can deal with any of these content areas through theater. We all have to be in classes that are out of our comfort zone.

 

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