Monday, January 12, 2015

How Theatre Prepares Youth for Adulthood

Encore! directors, Joshua Branson Barker and Mindy Barker, explain how participating in a theatre program can make a lasting impact on the lives of kids and teens. Participating in a quality theatre program like Encore! Tulsa not only helps kids become better performers, but better adults, leaders, communicators, collaborators, employees, friends, problem-solvers, and public speakers.

Winnie the Pooh
Presented by Encore! Tulsa
July 2012
Having directed over 60 stage productions, we've enjoyed sharing our passion and joy for live theatre with actors, crew, and audiences of all ages. One of the most rewarding aspects of this job is the feedback we receive from parents, explaining what their child has learned from being in a show and/or class with us. Their child is more confident, responsible, and creative. He is raising his hand more in class. She is reading more books. He is less shy. She's running for class president. He won the school talent show.

Many valuable life lessons are learned in the life of an actor, spending time in rehearsals and at performances. We are living proof. We were "theatre kids," and the skills and lessons we learned have positively affected every area of our lives, even as adults.

De Elizabeth wrote an article that was featured on explaining how being a theatre kid makes you a successful adult. You can read the full article here, but here are the highlights:

Here are 10 ways theatre creates some pretty awesome adults:

The Lost Pages of Sleeping Beauty
Presented by Encore! Tulsa - August 2015
1. You learned the harsh taste of rejection early… and how to cope.

Every theatre kid knows that one-two punch of waiting… and waiting… and waiting for the cast list, only to be met with sheer disappointment. It feels like being pushed off a cliff; your heart races as you scan the names, wondering why you don’t see your own. You look twice, and even a third time and then, it finally settles in. You didn’t make it.

The first time this happened to you, it was devastating. You wondered what you did wrong; you felt worthless. You may have cried for an hour or more. You kept auditioning though, and you kept trying. Truth be told, rejection sucked every time, but it somehow got easier. You learned that it wasn’t personal, that maybe you just weren’t the right fit.

This way of thinking stuck with you as you grew up. Sometimes, it’s just not the right role, job, or boyfriend, but it doesn’t mean you suck as a person. You’ve developed a thicker skin and you’re tougher than many of your peers.
The Wizard of Oz
Presented by Encore! Tulsa
August 2012

2. You know that success doesn’t come without hard work.

Any time you landed a juicy role in a show, you had to work your butt off for it. Additionally, you know how much time goes into creating a successful production. It takes hours of rehearsals and dress rehearsals, countless weekend set builds, tech days to program the lighting, costume fittings, and the list goes on and on.

You didn’t get to collect your bouquet of flowers until you contributed the necessary blood, sweat and tears. This philosophy doesn’t end with the theatre — it extends into all areas of your life. Accomplishments do not exist without great effort.

It's a Wonderful Life
Presented by Encore! Tulsa - December 2015
3. “Getting into character” taught you empathy.

If there’s any person who understands the meaning behind the phrase “put yourself in her shoes,” it’s you. This is literally what you had to do every time you approach a new role. Your acting exercises include instructions to connect moments in your own life to that of your character. You had to look for similar emotions within your own heart.

This wasn’t always easy, especially if you were playing a character unlike whom you actually are. Sometimes you felt disconnected from a role, and you had to look inward in order to grasp it.

This skill has been essential to you; it’s helped you understand the world around you. You can relate to others, and you’re able to interpret their behaviors, even if you don’t agree with them.
The Lost Pages of Snow White
Presented by Encore! Tulsa - August 2014

4. Spontaneity is in your blood.

You’re fun to be around because you adore spontaneity. You’re the type of person who will shout “road trip!” and you get excited about making adventure of everyday activities.

You have an appreciation for living in the moment because you know how much each moment counts. A moment can make or break your audition, and a moment can make an audience member laugh or cry. You strive to make the most out of every second of every day, and you look for ways to create excitement.

James and the Giant Peach
Presenred by Encore! Tulsa - Summer Camp 2016
5. You are an awesome problem-solver.

In live theatre, things are bound to go wrong at some point. Maybe you had to step in and take the place of a fellow actress who was sick, or perhaps, a prop broke mid-show and you had to figure out how to deal. When something goes wrong during a performance, there is zero time for panic. All you can do is launch into damage-control mode and focus on the solution at hand.

You know how to keep your cool during a crisis, and you know that the goal is to solve the problem. The best thing you can do is work toward that goal, without melting down.

The Wizard of Oz
Presented by Encore! Tulsa - April 2015
6. Thinking on your feet is your specialty.

You’re probably cringing as you remember a time when your scene partner forgot all of his lines and you had to improvise your way through it. You were sweating underneath your costume and trying to summon every ounce of possible psychic willpower to telepathically send him his lines. When you exited the stage, your friends surrounded you and praised your improvisational skills.

Or perhaps, your scene partner forgot an entrance, leaving you alone onstage with an entire audience staring at you.

Sometimes, things go wrong and there’s absolutely no time to plan a solution. When that happens, you have to have cat-like reflexes and be fast on your toes. Luckily, you learned this (perhaps the hard way) during those terrifying theatrical moments and you now have the strengths to handle unexpected obstacles.
Alice in Wonderland
Presented by Encore! Tulsa
October 2014

7. You’re well-spoken.

“The lips, the teeth, the tip-of-the-tongue!”

All of those drills you did as vocal warm-ups probably haven’t left your brain, even after a decade. You've expanded your vocabulary as you had to research definitions of unfamiliar words that appeared in each new script. You know how to project your voice, how to use correct diction and enunciation, and how to craft the sound of your voice in order to be understood.

Thanks to all the speech exercises and expanded vocabulary, you are quite skilled at speaking eloquently.

This comes in handy when you go on job interviews or when you have to give presentations at work. You’ll find yourself channeling those tools from class, and you’ll feel grateful when you’re respected by those you’re speaking to.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Presented by Encore! Tulsa - March 2016
8. You’re a go-getter.

In theatre, you don’t get what you want without putting yourself out there first. In order to be cast in a show, you have to audition. In order to be on the production team, you have to interview. End of story.

Building confidence is key; you had to give yourself many pep talks before you ventured out to your first audition and to many auditions after that. It takes a lot of effort and self-esteem to push apprehension aside and go for it anyway.

You know that life demands similar qualities out of you and that no reward comes without some element of risk.

A Charlie Brown Christmas
Presented by Encore! Tulsa - November 2015
9. Fear doesn’t get the best of you.

You remember your first few auditions in high school and the feeling of getting onstage in front of your teachers (and sometimes peers). Your palms were probably sweaty, and maybe, your knees shook a little. It’s possible this happened every time you auditioned; many professional performers confirm that stage fright never entirely disappears.

Despite the fact that you were scared, you learned how to control your nerves. You learned how to seize that nervous energy and trap the butterflies that ran rampant in your stomach. That sense of control allowed you to channel that energy into whatever you wanted it to be, and you put it toward a successful performance.

As you navigate your 20s, you know that you’ll find yourself in many situations that create anxiety and nerves. However, you won’t run from those scenarios; instead, you’ll face them head on with deep breaths and confidence.
It's a Wonderful Life
Presented by Encore! Tulsa - December 2014

10. Your friendships run deep

Perhaps most importantly, being in theatre gave you several dozen families over the years. Every show became its own chapter in this larger story of your theatrical endeavors. With each cast, you bonded in a different way, some more closely than others.

You’ve been lucky to have shared the stage with some of these people and even luckier to have them in your life now. You care a lot about your friends, and the bonds that you’ve created will forever remain unbroken, even after your final curtain call.

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