The Octagon Theatre in Yeovil, Somerset will soon be entertaining families from across the South West with their festive production of Sleeping Beauty. I can't wait!! I love the pantomime and take the children every year without fail. The cast are always fantastic and the kids always leave having had a great time.
I love the theatre. Not only does it bond and entertain the local community but it also contributes to the economy and provides local dancing / acting schools with opportunities to include talented youngsters in productions. No doubt local children will be included in the Octagon Theatre production of Sleeping Beauty.
Youth Dramatics groups are fantastic for young people. I participated in such groups for years as a child and developed skills that would otherwise not have been developed until joining the world of work. If you have a child bounding with energy who needs an outlet, then consider getting them involved in a local group and I’m sure they’ll experience the same benefits that I did as a child. Yeovil is host to some great performing arts group and so too is Bristol which is home to the Bristol Youth Theatre Studio and the Bristol Old Vic Young Company amongst others. Without doubt additional groups will be thriving across the rest of the South West.
The following areas outline just some of the key benefits for a child:
Rehearsing and performing in front of others teaches a child confidence. This is a fundamental skill that most adults only develop as part of formal training when they enter the workplace - typically in the form of 'Presentation Skills' training.
Every member of a theatre group, regardless of the size of the role, is a vital member of the team. This validation contributes greatly to a child's self-esteem, particularly when being applauded at the end of a production.
As with Presentation Skills training above, Time Management and Prioritisation are also courses that an adult will typically engage in when they enter the work place. Participating in youth theatre groups helps a child to develop these skills at an early age as they must learn to manage their time to allow for attendance at rehearsals and productions. Ensuring that their personal time is well scheduled, ensures that they can give their maximum to their theatre group.
Team Work is another essential part of youth theatre. Not only must children work effectively with both peers and adults but they must also operate cross-functionally; interacting with those who manage the stage set, lighting, artwork, costumes etc. The beauty of teamwork in this capacity is that it is non-competitive. It gives children a chance to engage with others on a basis that requires everyone to come together as equals without competing with each other. This is often a welcome change for children who are otherwise immersed in competitive activities. School itself tests children from an early age; ranking them in order of performance. During tests, collaboration is forbidden and children must perform on their own merits. In real life, however, the world doesn't work like this. To exceed in the workplace, collaboration and teamwork are essential to success. Being part of a theatre group enables children to acknowledge this and develop their skills through the fundamental role played by the team in delivering a fantastic production. They are certainly not penalised for drawing on the skills and expertise of their teammates as they would be in a school test setting.
Self-discipline is another skill developed by children who are part of theatre groups. They may, for example, have to sacrifice hanging out with friends or going out for pizza for the sake of their theatre group. This is a hugely valuable personal asset.
This list is not exhaustive (I have failed to mention the opportunity to develop skills such as problem-solving skills, creative thinking, and abstract thinking amongst others) but at the very least it gives a good insight into the value that membership to a theatre group presents to a child.
Without a doubt, theatre groups help your child acquire skills at an early age which puts them at an advantage when it comes to harnessing opportunities in their adult lives. So, if your child is bounding with energy and needs a channel to direct this energy then consider getting them involved.
Maybe next year they'll be part of the cast of children supporting the Octagon Theatre Christmas pantomime!