Last summer, my 6-year-old theatre student told me, “my mom signed me up for theatre camp because I’m dramatic.” Aw, so cute right? I don’t doubt that theatre camp let her embrace her inner drama queen. But what I’m sure of is that she walked away from camp with important life skills that she gained with an early immersion in theatre; skills that essentially everyone involved in theatre will gain.
Part of succeeding in theatre is knowing how to “make it work.” I can’t count the amount of times I’ve been told that phrase when in the theatre. You as an actor can’t just sit passively until any mistake made clears up on it’s own (it won’t) or depend on someone to fix it for you. It is the responsibility of you and your scene partner to figure out how to cover. You figure out how to push yourself to a 9 when you’re at a 5. You learn how to boost your own energy for the sake of the show. Problem solving becomes second nature and as an actor, you develop an innate instinct to figure out your problem, quickly develop an idea, and do it.
Collaboration, working as an ensemble:
“You’re not the lead, you’re a part of the cast.”
Learning how to collaborate with others is a quintessential skill for anyone to have regardless where life takes you. There will always be a moment where you are required to combine your skills and knowledge with others to create or produce something cohesive. Once you become a part of an ensemble, you gain that skill and never forget it. There is no actor who will doubt a feeling of family that each cast provides, but being a part of a cast also allows for your growth as an individual in addition to teaching the skill of giving a little and taking a little, and knowing how to work with the members of your ensemble.
Dedication and passion walk hand in hand. A kid in theatre spends months of their life dedicated to one script, one character, and one cast. So much work is put into acting and theatre in general, and so much of that work develops from a budding passion that ultimately leads to a strong dedication to not only a show, but to the craft as a whole. It is that dedication that ultimately bleeds into every task encountered down the line.
Patience and being okay with failure:
Perfection doesn’t come with one rehearsal or one run-through. And in most cases, “perfect” might not ever be reached. But, that is the beauty of theatre. You are encouraged to take risks, find new moments and learn something new through the exploration of yourself. Unlike painting or dancing where there is a way to do someone completely correct, theatre is an art where you can read the same line six different ways that all work and are all correct. There is room from growth and success in everything, but it is not immediate.
Understanding people is part of an actor’s job. This skill is largely developed through the necessary character exploration done by every actor. Part of knowing how to truthfully play a character is taking that first step in trying to figure out your character. Like a chain reaction, the more you understand the person you are portraying, the more authentic your performance will be. An actor works to understand how people think, and how they behave.
Acting is not just playing make-believe. It is about being truthful; discovering yourself, and ultimately preparing yourself for any situation that you may face in your future. A 6-year old signing up for theatre camp won’t just get to be in play. They will win the advancement of a particulate skill set only gained on the stage