I have a difficult time simply writing out the answer to this question because if I were to explain to you face to face I’d be out of breath from talking too fast and gesticulating wildly. I believe so strongly in the importance of the human connection I’d rather talk to you about this topic in person, but I’ll do my best to clarify in writing the things I’ve learned as a student of theatre and as an educator.
At its core, theatre is all about being human. So many of us are yearning for deep and meaningful human connections, and that’s what theatre is all about. To truly understand another person’s journey and to benefit from the knowledge of something outside ourselves. This applies to both the actor and the audience, where we imagine, if briefly, walking a mile in someone else’s shoes. It is all about compassion and empathy.
Very often, societal norms dictate that we keep our emotions in check and stifle our real feelings. Theatre is a safe space to explore all the parts of ourselves and to communicate those feelings effectively with those around us. Theatre deepens our understanding of what it means to be genuinely human. A life with theatre, music, art and literature makes us all better.
Another important aspect I have always enjoyed about theatre is that it is the great equalizer. It is inclusive, not exclusive. All are welcome because no two theatre artists can or should be the same. Everyone has so many varied things to offer and it takes a lot of talented individuals with different gifts to make the magic of theatre come to life.
I’ve had students of a variety of socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds. I’ve had students in the gifted program, and those on the autism spectrum, and students who go to school and struggle every single day with typical classroom learning. I’ve had students who do acting class as a part of many other activities, and I have ones who have tried and never found something where they felt comfortable. I’ve had kids with crippling anxiety disorders and I’ve had students who are super outgoing. The great thing about all this variety is, that when we come together to create theatre, we become a family, and everyone is an important family member during this exploration of what we call Theatre.
For me, personally, as a child...theatre was a place I felt at home. It was a place I could forget I was poor because onstage, everyone was the same. It became a safe haven for me in the midst of a lot of family turmoil that otherwise I might have retreated away from the world to protect myself. Instead, I could pretend to be someone else for a few hours and lose myself in another world where things weren’t so sad and confusing. In so many ways, theatre really and truly saved me and set me on a path to become an adult with much more confidence in my abilities and a way to create family where there was none.
So what does learning theatre have to do with the real world? Actually, it turns out, quite a lot. The swift evolution of technology in our world, while useful, has had some negative impact, I believe, on children who have never been taught moderation. They are losing out on that human connection, and they are missing a lot of the “soft skills” modern day employers are desperate for, which include: confidence, creativity, focus, accountability, dedication, body language, teamwork, determination, receiving constructive feedback, and problem solving. Those are things that, simply put, a computer or smartphone can’t teach you. A recent survey at Google found that, of the top 8 most important qualities of their top employees, STEM skills came in last and soft skills were rated on top. From the CEO to the newest hire in the corner cubicle, having effective communication skills is vitally important in pretty much every single job out there. I know from the feedback I have from parents that my students are benefitting already in the classroom by being more active participants at school and honing these soft skills will make them very attractive to future employers some time down the road.
Lastly, when we think of movies or plays, they should do one or more of these three things: inspire, educate or entertain. What an incredible gift it is, culturally, to be a part of something as an artist and as an audience member that can affect change in such a huge way. The stories of human struggle and sacrifice told in a way that stays with us for years to come. It is difficult to think of something that makes an impact in quite the same manner.
I truly believe it is a gift to teach theatre to our youth, because in acting another person’s story, I’ve seen them come to an even deeper understanding of who they are. Theatre helps people become more of who they really are as a human being, and that’s something I love being a part of!
Sonia Cuvelier Walsh has many years experience working with children. She has that combined with her knowledge and love of the theater which makes her the perfect person to teach drama to kids of all ages. If you want to expose your child to the magic of theater, the art of performing, to help them gain self-confidence and have a great time while doing it, then Serendipity Acting Studio definitely is the place to be!
“ Acting - it’s sort of like advanced pretend. ”Jeff Bridges
“ Without acting I cannot breathe. ”Sir Laurence Olivier
“ Acting is the greatest answer to my loneliness that I have found. ”Clare Danes
“ The thing about performance, even if its only an illusion, is that it is a celebration of the fact that we contain within ourselves infinite possibilities. ”Daniel Day Lewis
“ Acting touches nerves you have absolutely no control over. ”Alan Rickman
“ I found the theatre and I found my home. ”Audra McDonald
“ Sometimes you can have the smallest role in the smallest productions and still have the biggest impact. ”Neil Patrick Harris
“ One of the things about acting is it allows you to live other people’s lives with paying the price. ”Robert DeNiro
“ I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being ”Oscar Wilde
“ Acting is not about being someone different. It's finding the similarity in what is apparently different, then finding myself in there. ”Meryl Streep
“ Good morning. You are perfectly cast in your life. I can’t imagine anyone but you in the role. Go play. ”Lin-Manuel Miranda
“ Acting is behaving truthfully under imaginary circumstances ”Stanford Meisner
“ The best actors instinctively feel out what other actors need, and they just accommodate it. ”Christopher Nolan
“ Love the art in yourself, not yourself in the art. ”Konstantin Stanislavsky