This article was sponsored by American Stage Theatre.
“As a single mom with a limited income, money for enrichment classes is basically non-existent. When I discovered your program and applied for financial aid, I was thrilled we were accepted. I expected Jack to have some fun and maybe learn a thing or two about acting. Instead, we got so much more than I ever anticipated. I have seen him grow as an actor, but more importantly to me as his mother, I have seen him grow as a human being. He is learning to trust his instincts, to collaborate, use his imagination, to understand the power of his own voice and so much more.” – Lorraine Coffey, parent of American Stage Summer Camp student
This comment above from a mother of a camper—this is why we are dedicated to our work at American Stage Education & Outreach. Seeing theatre and participating in theatre-making empowers young people to be bolder, wiser and more compassionate on stage and in life.
So many of us want our children to be “successful,” and each parent has a different definition of what success looks like. Self-confidence is key to success. But how does theatre education help a child build confidence, achieve success or reach their potential?
Storytelling is core to being human, and therefore, is an essential access point for communicating and guiding our young people. It is also both a social and personal experience. Across most of our programs in local schools and at the theatre, the class works toward a common goal of creating and mounting a theatrical story through language, movement, voice and sometimes, technical elements. Stories can be told in many ways, and people have been telling stories forever as a way to share information, ideas and understanding. Crafting and sharing a story is a goal larger than any individual artist or student, but requires each participant to bring their unique perspectives and strengths to the table.
Whether a student is writing a script, designing a set, performing in a musical or analyzing and discussing a play, their intellectual, creative and socio-emotional growth is tremendous. It’s an opportunity for young people to discover more about themselves and others. Not only does this experience bring joy into a person’s life, it is also how we learn to apply our strengths, stretch our potential and build confidence. Imagine the pride a young person feels when their creation comes to life. They have focused their energies with the support of a team, and the result is a beautiful piece of theatre with a clear story that resonates with an audience of family, friends and strangers. Imagine the confidence igniting within them. Imagine how capable they feel to pursue their dreams. Imagine the connection they have to their ensemble, and the lessons they absorb about personal and collaborative potential.
Theatre education is not about acting. It’s about creating and participating. We teach people ages 5 to 105 how to be curious, how to have a vision, and how to work independently and with a team to create something real. From there, no matter what life has in store, you can tackle it. The American Stage Education & Outreach teaching artists and staff go to work every day to instill this confidence, and empower our young people and the world they will create.