Five Benefits of a Performing Arts Education
Early in the pandemic, a meme made the rounds, reading:
As you binge watch your thirteenth series on Netflix in two days, remember that in the darkest days, when everything else stopped, you turned to artists.
The performing arts were one of the most heavily impacted industries in the face of COVID-19, but that didn’t stop artists and institutions from finding new ways of creating, new ways of reaching audiences, new ways of building community and processing our new shared experience through art. When 2020 started, I could never have predicted going from being on stage at Steppenwolf to creating a virtual play using the Marco Polo app in a month’s span, but that’s what happened.
Many theatre artists — myself included — got their start on stage in school. This summer, we may no longer be binging TV the way we were under lockdown (though if anyone wants to talk Mare of Easttown, I’m here!) but the performing arts, especially performing arts education, are still vital and are still possible both in person and via remote learning.
Whether your student dreams of starring in the next Marvel movie, aspires to study STEM fields in college, or is still trying on versions of their future, studying the performing arts imparts critical life skills that predict success across disciplines.
What do all students gain from a performing arts education? These are just five of the many benefits:
- Communication Skills
Monologues and speeches are vehicles to improving diction, projection, vocal support, awareness of one’s own body language, and self-confidence — all key elements of successful public speaking and presentation. Scene work teaches young actors to read and interpret human behavior, to articulate what they want and need from one another, and overall builds more compassionate and attentive listeners.
- Increased Focus and Memory
Memorization is a muscle — the more it’s used, the stronger (and faster) it becomes. Learning lines now can help students retain information for exams down the road. Theater also offers young actors a chance to practice time management. Off book dates and rehearsal schedules ask actors to prepare material on their own to meet deadlines, and reinforces accountability to others as well. Collaboration is central to the art form, and as such, it will impart skills that apply to a broad array of situations.
- Creative Problem Solving
In theater, there is no one right answer. From things as small as script questions (why did your character refuse to stay for dinner?) or justifying blocking (figure out how to end up standing behind the couch by the end of the speech) to current challenges (we can’t meet in person, how can we create and distribute this piece of theater safely?) all of these questions encourage students to both think outside of the box and trust their instincts.
Embodying different characters offers young actors the opportunity to live truthfully under imaginary circumstances that may be very different from their own lived experience. Inhabiting these characters, and the conversations surrounding character work, leads to increased empathy.
- Emotional Outlet
Whether students are writing or devising their own theatrical work or bringing their own emotional life to a playwright’s words, the performing arts offer students an opportunity and a framework to express themselves fully in a context where emotional honesty and availability are celebrated without consequence. This may be more important for our students now than ever before.
Bonus: Appreciation for the Arts
The next generation of actors is nothing without the next generation of theater goers. Studying the arts early can build a lifelong appreciation for them. This pandemic has shown how critical the arts are to our cultural wellbeing and as we rebuild and reopen, it is the next generation who will support and maintain these invaluable institutions.
Black Box Acting has reimagined our Young Adult Program to offer a supplemental, individualized acting curriculum for students aged 10-18. The Young Adult Program offers each student a tailor-made curriculum designed to boost creativity and confidence while fostering a passion for and appreciation of the arts.
Whether your student is looking for a creative outlet over the summer or is preparing to audition for BFA programs next fall, we meet each student where they are with a custom curriculum in our private training options. Group classes will resume shortly as well.
If you’re interested in discussing classes for your student please visit https://blackboxacting.com/young-adult/.