With report card deadlines looming and the continuation of our never-ending cold weather, I want to share some inspiration this week!
In addition to teaching full time, I have the complete pleasure of being a theatre arts educator and part of the overseeing team for a variety of youth theatre education programs at a local theatre company. Part of my responsibilities at the theatre is to coordinate several student matinee performances throughout the school year. I love this cross-over of my two passions, theatre and teaching. I’ve been fortunate enough to bring my own classes to some of these matinee performances over the past few years and each time, I’m filled with joy about what we’re doing.
This week I have been reminded of the magic of experiencing theatre in childhood. My theatre company offers free-of-charge tickets to high priority schools in my board, which allows around 4,000 children to attend a live theatre performance each year. In many cases, this is the first opportunity for a trip to a theatre for these children. My absolute favourite thing to do is stand at the back of the theatre and watch the faces and expressions of an audience full of children experience the magic of theatre for the first time. There are often audible “wow”‘s and “whoa”‘s coming from the young audience as a neat set change, prop magic or particularly powerful performance takes place.
I step back and think about all of the good things happening in that room. There are over 700 children in the audience experiencing the magic of theatre, fully engaged and often entranced by the performance on the stage. They are experiencing a beautiful culmination of literacy, drama, dance, music and visual arts. They are experiencing culture, being immersed in a new setting and learning the social cues and etiquette of attending a theatrical performance. On the stage is often our youth company – over 40 children in grades 5-8 singing, dancing and acting in front of large crowds. They are building confidence, teamwork, perseverance, resilience and so many more things that I’ll need to write another blog post about it – but ultimately, they are being empowered. Children sharing their art with other children, an empowering exchange both ways.
I believe wholeheartedly in the value of experiences in the arts for students. Not only is participating in the art forms of dance, drama and music so rich for children, but being an audience member can be just as important. I hope that I’ll be able to continue my role in providing theatre experiences to many more children over my career, and that theatre will always remain a large part of who I am as an educator. If you haven’t considered a field trip to the theatre this year, I encourage you to do so!