4 Important Benefits to Kids’ Theater

4 Important Benefits to Kids’ Theater

As I’ve written before, my family enjoys drama–the good kind. Theater has been handed down from my husband’s experiences to our kids. As I sat last night preparing to see a rendition of Fiddler on the Roof, Jr, by kids ages 6-18, I realized kids’ theater has some very powerful benefits to the students involved, their parents, and even into the community.

Responsibility

Over the last two and a half years that my youngest son has been involved in theater, I have seen his sense of responsibility increase–at least where stage presence is needed. (I’m sure it will continue to spread through other areas of his life.) As he fulfills his role as class officer and leadership member at school, I see him take the same responsibility for his actions as he does in a play. He makes sure his part is covered and he doesn’t leave any other classmates in a lurch.

As I sat in the theater last night with the curtain drawn waiting to watch the story unfold, I read the playbill. Inside it stated:

“Teaching a child to act independently and make decisions without parental authorization for every action is no small task. But, that is the essence of responsibility…It is an inherent part of the theater experience.” ~Dan Almich, producer ‘Fiddler on the Roof, Jr’ at Sprague Theater, 2017

Responsibility on stage

How does this work out on the stage? First off, there are no prompts from the sidelines in kids’ theater. They are responsible for learning their lines, the prop placement, and the final show. They become accountable to their peers. As students progress in theater, they are the ones that model behavior for newcomers. They are the ones who are prompt, learn their lines, and keep the younger ones inline.

Responsiblity in teamwork

Not only do students learn to be responsible on the stage, they begin to form a team–just like any sport, if not stronger. As students grow and learn their parts, “they then must learn to be members of the team, or a part of the cast. Teamwork is essential in producing a coherent and consistent play. In theater, teamwork is based on relationship building, a skill necessary for all social activities.” (Almich, 2017)

Community

<img="Theater production">As young actors create the play, they build a sense of community. Anyone who has worked on a play can tell you that by the time the final curtain closes, each actor now has two personalities–their self, and the part they played. By next Sunday at this time, my youngest son will not only be David Wyatt, he will also be Motel (not the place you rent a room, but pronounced Model) the Tailor. The gal acting alongside him, won’t just be Natalie, she’ll be David’s bride. In some plays, the actor will lose his or her real person and only be known as the part to those in the play or those who saw it.

This is the other sense of community that children’s theater brings. As a play is produced, it is brought to the larger community–those who come to see it, and the community where the theater building resides. Children need to know that they are doing something beyond themselves. There are others outside of their immediate family or even cast family that are depending on them. At any opening night or showing of a play, a sense of excitement permeates the theater as attendees wait for the curtain to rise and transport them to another time and place. This excitement transfers to the actors and brings both actors and community members into one larger group. Where kids’ theater differs from adult theater is at the end of the show. After the final curtain call, the actors head back to the foyer to greet the attendees and thank them for coming. This final greeting clenches that sense of community.

Etiquette

<img="curtain call">Another benefit of kids’ theater is the etiquette that actors learn. They are trained in bowing, stage directions, listening to their director, as well as greeting people at the end. These manners carry over to other areas of their lives. They also learn how to be in front of people. After the play ‘Bethlehem Road‘, I saw a shift in my youngest son. Any time he stood on stage–from concert introductions to assemblies–he suddenly stood taller, projected his voice, and made his point succinctly and articulately. This change came about due to the training he received from theater.

Magic

No, I’m not saying your child will become a wizard if he or she joins kids’ theater. Instead, they will be a part of transporting their audience from the real-world to a world where anything is possible. The stage can send people back in time (think King Henry) or forward in time (A Wrinkle in Time). It can also move people to tears, laughter, and all emotions in between.

These emotions came to the fore last night as I heard the haunting melody and words of Sunrise, Sunset.

I’ve always loved the words to the song, but to hear them sung with my baby-boy suddenly grownup-looking and being ‘married’ made the words take on a totally new meaning.


As parents, we want our kids to have all the good experiences. Often we’re running from one activity to another. In our family, we’ve limited the kids to one sport per season. Our youngest has chosen his ‘sport’–drama. He sets his schedule based on what kids’ theater has planned. Even though this decision has required a commitment not only from our son but from us as parents, last night will stand out as a highlight as my parents, sister and her family, daughter and her boyfriend, and two of our sons sat in the seats and watched Fiddler on the Roof, Jr. If your child has any desire to join theater, I’d say go for it. You have a lot to gain.

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