Monday, June 9, 2014

The Education of Theatre!

My daughter and I love Theatre.  We are blessed to live in an area that has a lot to offer in this realm. Theatre goes beyond fun.  It is an entire education in itself.  We are always hearing about the benefits of sports for children but let's take a look at the educational value of theatre...

Here are some things that theatre will teach your children:

Teamwork           Responsibility           Collaboration       Leadership        Abstract Thinking

Conceptualization           Creative Thinking            Public Speaking in a Fun Way         

Boost Self-Confidence        Learn to Accept Constructive Critique (a key life skill!) 
Boosts Literacy /Social and Math Skills       Improves Attention       Develops Empathy  

Studies show students in the arts scored higher on the verbal portion of SAT and higher on the math portion. Students involved in the arts are four times more likely to achieve academic notice, hold school offices, win awards for writing and even enter science fairs. Arts students read  for pleasure more often, and perform community service at a much higher rate than their non-arts friends. Students gain academic life skills through performing!  You can reference the UCLA study and The College Board study for more facts on how the arts improves your child's education.

Our Theatre Experiences

When my daughter was a baby, she could cry louder than any other child I have ever met before and since!  We started back when she was a baby, saying that those lungs were going to be used for theatre some day.  She also had a terrific flare for the dramatic (and still does).  Sarah grew older and her flare for the dramatic and her loud animated personality stuck -so we decided it was time to start this kiddo in theatre!  She started out with a local theatre group called Raleigh ACT which was a very wonderful children's theatre group that was fairly new.  Ms. Blaire is a fantastic teacher.  Sarah really enjoyed her experience with Raleigh ACT.  It was a terrific place to get our feet wet with theatre.

This year we signed up with Spiritual Twist Productions or commonly known around here as CYT (Christian Youth Theater).  This is an established, larger theatre group in the area with a very strong Christian "twist" to all their plays and instruction the children receive all year long.  Mrs. Natalie is a gifted writer and teacher.  Her plays are full length productions that are guaranteed to blow you away when you see one!  Sarah really enjoyed her experience this year and we will be back next year for sure.  We loved our entire experience there.

Sarah was in Snow White for this year's production.  Mrs. Natalie takes familiar stories like Snow White and then "twists" them to have a Christian message and she effectively delivers the gospel through each of her productions.  This play was "twisted" toward the gospel in several ways but the most obvious was the absence of 7 dwarfs, replaced by 9 fruits of the Spirit.  Each child started out acting the complete opposite of their "fruit" but by the end of the play they had all begun to walk in their fruits.  There are many twists but the story remains very familiar and identifiable throughout.  Mrs. Natalie is definitely a creative writer.  Her talents are fully appreciated by the end of a production!
I thought I would interview Sarah to ask her a few questions about her brief but fun theatre experiences to date...

1.  What is your favorite thing about Theatre?

I like to be able to develop out my character and then act it out on stage for everyone.  It's fun to be creative and make a character come to life.
3.  What did you love the most about Raleigh ACT where you did your first play?

It was a smaller group and I had good friends there doing the play with me, so it was great fun.  I was able to gain a lot of confidence there because the class size allowed everyone to get individual attention from Ms. Blaire, who is very encouraging.  I loved Ms. Blaire, she was very kind and helped me a lot.  I still like to go there and see my friends who have continued with Raleigh ACT!  The play I was in for Raleigh ACT was Jack and the Beanstalk.  I was a Minstrel.
4.  What did you love the most about Christian Youth Theatre this year?

I really liked Mrs. Natalie's focus on God.  She had devotions, prayer and all our acting skills were always taught with keeping in mind our performance was really to an audience of One - God.  I liked that there was a large audience and the stage was big with elaborate costumes!  I did this year's class with a good friend and it was a lot of fun to share that experience together.  I had two parts in this play, which I really enjoyed because it was so much fun developing out two different characters.  I played Little Snow White and Faith (one of the 9 fruits of the Spirit).

To help those who are local compare the two children's theatre's referenced, this may help...
From a mother's perspective, Raleigh ACT puts together a very good performance with good costumes, sets and sound.  It required less of my time, was less expensive because it was only 10 weeks long and there wasn't a lot of requests for parents to step up to do work for the production (good for busy moms or those with multiple little ones).  It was a great first experience and place to get our feet wet with theatre to see if it was something Sarah would enjoy and I would be able to juggle with school and other commitments.  

CYT is definitely a larger time commitment and expense but it is also a larger production, bigger audience and more elaborate sets, costumes, make-up and hairstyles.  These are full length productions over three days and there is a professional feel to all of it.  The parental involvement is more with CYT.  Parents are heavily involved in the work behind the scenes and the day of production.  To keep expenses down and allow these productions to be free to the public and spread the message of the gospel, is well worth the investment of time.  As a Christian parent, I appreciated the constant instruction in godliness and character development that CYT provided.  It's obvious that Mrs. Natalie is investing in the lives of these children for the glory of God.  Learning to see theatre and life, through the eyes Mrs. Natalie is giving these children is priceless and worth the investment.    

As a side note:  I noticed that being classically educated, with a heavy emphasis on memorization at the grammar stage, really assisted Sarah in easily learning her lines for each play.    

I felt both were terrific theatre groups and provided different experiences that were both beneficial and fun.  Raleigh ACT was a perfect place to get started with smaller class sizes and it certainly helped gain confidence for my daughter.  CYT has beautiful themed plays, Godly instruction and teaches theatre as an extension of our gifts and service to God.  You can't go wrong at either theatre -both Ms. Blaire and Mrs. Natalie are working within their gifts and sharing those with the children they are instructing.  We loved both experiences! 

What do you think?? 

Comment below if you have had any experiences you would like to share or any comments about either theatre mentioned above!  
Started your Cycle 3 Summer planning yet???  


  1. (As a drama teacher) I totally agree with you about the merits of theater. Your daughter is so cute in her costumes.

    1. Thank you Phyllis - I'm glad you agree :) My daughter loves it!

  2. Hello, I found you through Trivium Tuesdays. Both my husband and I come from theatre backgrounds and understand the tremendous education a student receives through participating in a full production. My oldest just turned 8 and so far we have only been involved in our local homeschool group's yearly play. It is a very small (and inexpensive) production, but the budget just can't handle the groups like the two you described. Maybe one day, though!

    1. Hi Catie - thank you for commenting. I imagine that the gifts and talents that you and your husband can bring to your homeschool group's yearly play are a tremendous blessing to those who participate! I'm so glad you found me here. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Blessings - Colleen

  3. I would love to have my kids involved in a play at some point in their school years. I think my daughter would love it. She is a total extrovert and loves to pretend and sing and dance. Thanks for sharing your experiences!