More than performing – Theater teaches life skills

 

By Becky James, Artistic Producer, SDYT

Wigs can be a perilous undertaking in the world of youth theater. They never seem to fit smaller heads correctly and you don’t want parents spending a ton of money on them so you end up with some challenges that you don’t see in the adult theater world. In Shrek Jr, there are three Fiona’s, a young, a teen and an adult played by three different actresses which you see together in one enchanting song called I Know It’s Today. The easiest way for the audience to suspend disbelief and understand that these are all the same girl at different stages in her life is a dress in the same color and a red wig. In one of our performances our Teen Fiona lost her wig in the middle of the song. But she kept on singing and acting like nothing had happened, rocked her song and calmly picked up her wig on her way off the stage. Her ability to keep the show moving despite the wig adversity impressed the audience and all her directors.

Now, she could have curled up in a ball and never come back the next night but this young woman came back the next night, solved the problem and performed her solo with confidence, determination and her wig. She put to practice so many life skills in this one situation that her character as a human will be forever changed for the better. The flexibility to keep going when things go wrong in a situation, the preparation needed to know her song well enough with or without the wig, the dedication and self-confidence to come back the next night and go out on stage even remembering what went wrong the night before, and the problem solving of putting more pins into the wig. This is the kind of young woman I know any business would love to have pitching a big client when technical difficulties arise during the presentation. She will keep things moving and be well rehearsed in order to close the deal with or without her “props’.

As children we have the opportunity to practice life skills. What better place to practice these skills than theater, where you literally rehearse? Not only do the shows themselves teach lessons (in Shrek we learn to accept others as individuals) but it is a place to rehearse all the interpersonal skills we need as adults to function in our society.

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