As a director who has worked with children, it is so clear to see why theatre has many benefits and is a positive impact for children.
When kids belong to a theatre group, they are in a safe environment where their creativity and communication skills are boosted through role-play and imagination.
I have seen a vast improvement in confidence for many children, from when they first come along with their parents looking nervous, watching the other children perform in the rehearsals with awe, to then actually performing with the whole company without any hesitation.
Their confidence builds from learning lines and then speaking them out in public, so they become aware of their voice and prescience in front of an audience. This makes them self-aware and boosts vocabulary. So this will also help with them at school, as well as being a great hobby.
Not every child will be lucky enough to get the lead part, so getting knock backs and being part of a chorus teaches them about being a team player. There is no small part, only small actors as we say in theatre!
Children in a company often aspire and build up enough confidence to eventually get a principal or supporting role and this is something they can work towards. They learn to understand why someone else gets a part, how to prepare for a role and learn that just like life, not everyone gets a job just because they apply for it.
Forgotten lines and missed cues on stage teach the child that the show must go on. Just because there is an error, it doesn’t mean that everything comes to a halt. You keep going and that is a great lesson in life.
One of the big problems that we have now in life, are that children are addicted to technology. In my childhood, I was always told to come inside for dinner and now parents struggle to actually get their children outside! So one of the great elements about theatre classes, is that it helps enhance that forgotten communication of not using a phone or iPad to communicate, to use eye contact, to talk, have opinions and quite simply have real human connections.
Independence is learnt because each cast member has to learn to be responsible for his or her own lines and costume changes. Each child is taught to be aware of what is happening on stage and when their cue is without relying on someone to tell them, increasing their attention span skills.
In theatre, friendships are often made for life, because you will share a common ground with your cast members and work in such close proximity with each other that trust is built as well as a whole lot of fun!
Popular culture is learnt through performing different shows, where children will learn about history, dialects, phrases and culture, which is great for any child’s education and imagination.
Theatre teaches children to express themselves, through the format of song, dance, prose, movement or voice and this is so beneficial for their wellbeing.
Finally, not just for children in theatre, but also adults who love being in an amateur theatre group, seeing a play or musical go from script and vision, all the way to fruition at the actual performance is incredibly rewarding and cathartic.
The show buzz that you get from a live performance is such an amazing feeling and the reward of seeing your child accomplish a show is such a happy, proud moment for any parent!
Cat Quigley acts, directs, blogs and writes plays. You can find her at @theglamourcat or read her lifestyle blog on www.theglamourcat.com