Why theatre matters; touched by the whisperings of the stars

by Jonothan Neelands, patron of ISTA and Creative Education and Drama and Theatre Education teacher at the University of Warwick | 1 February 2021 | Posted in: Theatre

However big or small, rich or poor, every school has a theatre at its heart. A space that gathers us together as students, teachers and parents but also as citizens, as a living community. A space which encourages public participation in cultural activities that are as social, civic, even spiritual as they are part of the formal curriculum. These are spaces of assembly, prayer, sporting events, celebration, debate, invention and remembrance. They are all in one sense or another “theatres”; places of social communion and performance.

They are also spaces for the living art form of theatre – the most sociable art – to flourish as part of the life of the school. As part of its commitment to the role of the performing arts in a community as well as to the development of young people as effective, caring, thinking, socially engaged and globally-minded individuals. Developing the artistic skills and knowledge of actors, directors and designers also develops students’ capacities to be social actors making a difference on the worlds in which they are growing and must influence. Giving them the confidence, empathy and higher levels of social and emotional intelligence to be tomorrow’s leaders in whatever life they choose. Nicola Mendelsohn, Vice President of Facebook says this of her own drama education[1]:

What does studying drama teach you? I learned dedication, the value of hard work and of approaching the task in hand with a clear purpose and full attention. I learned the ability to communicate with passion and confidence and to believe in myself. All necessary skills when working with people and looking to inspire others to get the best out of them – so important, whether you decide to be an actor, a businesswoman, a scientist or an engineer.

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