My Beliefs on Theatre Education

Hedgerow Theatre children warming up. Photo by Ashley E. Smith

I mentioned awhile ago that the blog post on actors and reading had prompted a friend to suggest I apply to present at the Assocation of Theatre in Higher Education conference. Well, I did. And I will be presenting as part of a panel called "Today's Teaching Artist"!

I am so excited and honored to be a part of this group So I thought this would be a good time to share my thoughts on theatre education- its purpose, my purpose in it and why this is what I've chosen to do with my life.

I am a theatre artist and teacher, intrigued by the effects of story, music and ensemble on the human body and mind. I am also a professional actor and dancer. I have performed everything from Shakespeare to modern dance in venues across the nation. I have found that no matter what artistic project I am working on, the mind and the body must be engaged, cooperative and challenged to make valuable art.

My work is most satisfying when I am able to see a vision in my head translated into being in the classroom or on the stage. I love the process of creating and discovering, both alone and with my students. When I work with performers, I am reminded that every body is different, and learns differently.

I believe theatre education bolsters literacy skills with work in reading, comprehension, grammar, and narrative. An excellent theatre education also promotes life skills such as creative thinking, teamwork, public speaking, risk taking, creating meaning from the abstract and arts appreciation.

I believe the job of a theatre educator is not simply to create a great product (final performance), it is about a great process. While a culminating project provides motivation to students, and shows progress to parents, the creative process explored in a theatre class is the basis for true educational and life value. In a theatre class, students are encouraged to read, research, make decisions and take ownership of their own individual contributions to the group. Instilling these skills and values is the purpose of theatre education. An excellent production is a by-product of that learning.

I am deeply interested in the intersection of arts and learning and I believe theatre is a natural fit to support studies in history, literature and other art forms.