If you know me, you know I'm a tad biased about my students. But let's get real - theatre prepares you for countless obstacles in life. I could wax poetic for days about my wonderful theatre students, but here's my top 16 reasons for why thespians become the most productive and well-rounded adults.
1. They have serious work ethic
Theatre (and the arts in general) are a thankless venture. One in a million people actually "make it" to the point of being financially successful, so it's an internal satisfaction that drives artists. Even in other high school activities like sports, you can score points, beat opponents, and win trophies. The best win for theatre people is simply making a beautiful show - and that requires a passionate and dedicated work ethic.
2. Teamwork is natural and rewarding to them
Even if you're putting on a one-man show, there's always people behind the scenes. Theatre is a team effort. The actors rely on the tech team who relies on the set designers who rely on the director...so on and so forth. Ask any actor that's screwed up a scene by dropping a line - they know every tiny detail of their own can affect the entire team. Theatre develops an innate sense of teamwork.
3. They know how to lose gracefully
Any UIL theatre director will know - One Act Play is one of the most masochistic endeavors you can do. And the chances of losing outweigh the chance to win. But students (and teachers) come back every year, after every loss, and know how to take lessons from a losing season.
4. They're incredibly empathetic
There's no better way to develop empathy than by stepping into someone else for a while. Acting requires you to see things from a completely new perspective and by doing so, your empathy is developed. It also doesn't hurt that theatre departments are known to take in the "outsiders" and make a brand new family.
5. Confidence is permanently instilled
Any theatre teacher will tell you: the before and after of a student going through a theatre program is a night and day comparison. The emotional and mental growth a child goes through in theatre is unparalleled and allows students to be more confident in every day situations.
6. They can accept criticism
Theatre is something without a score. It's not like looking to the scoreboard at the end of a basketball game and seeing a clear winner and loser - theatre is very subjective. And with that comes constant criticism. Some can be constructive, a lot can be purely critical. Nonetheless, theatre helps you develop a thick skin and a keen filter for criticism.
7. Organization becomes natural
As you might imagine, theatre people are all a bit ADD. As a group, we have thousands of thoughts going at once, not to mention creative and tactical goals. We are forced to be organized and in doing so, develop conscious skills in regulating and disciplining ourselves. As a learned skill, it becomes stronger with each use.
8. They are taught to ask "why?"
Why would this character say this? Why are they motivated to do that? Why can't they accept this situation? Acting is nothing if not questioning someone else's actions. Getting to the root of a problem requires probing questions - and theatre kids know how to ask those questions.
9. They're masters of memorization
Have you ever attempted memorizing a 200+ page script in a week? Thespians do it all the time! Not only are they memorizing lines, but also cues, placement, dances, songs, and direction. They can absorb information like it's no problem - and execute that info to perfection.
10. Psychology becomes a sixth sense
Developing characters takes a well-honed sense of human nature. You basically become someone else's persona, including their good, bad, and ugly features. As an actor, you have the chance to examine, test, analyze, and exemplify a range of human emotions, and in the process, you grow.
11. They can adapt to any situation
In even the most well-equipped departments, you may be singing lead, sketching costumes, and organizing technical tools all in one day. What other job requires that spectrum of tactical and creative skills? Not many. Theatre kiddos are sometimes thrown to the wolves - and always come up swimming.
12. Creativity is their second language
Theatre is creativity in action. It's design, writing, and physical art rolled into one. And creativity is a muscle in our mind. Using it daily, stretching its boundaries and expanding our concept of it makes for more productive creativity in all aspects of our life. Thespians are professional creatives.
13. They're literary
Theatre is literature, clearly. But it's also the study of history, politics, art, culture, human nature, and storytelling. The deep dive actors do into a script is second-to-none in terms of literary study. Kids leave theatre classes knowing how to analyze, study, and internalize many pieces of literature.
14. Public speaking is no big deal
Whether your job requires you to speak in front of an audience, or you just happen to communicate with other humans, public speaking is a necessity for us all. Students of theatre learn to get over their nerves, feed off audience energy, and present themselves well. Practice makes perfect and performing is the best practice for the real world.
15. They know good writing - and how to replicate it
In developing a show, actors read scripts, analysis, books, essays, reviews, and more. Taking in this much literature naturally makes you a better reader and writer. And some of the best pieces of literature to grace the English cannon are plays. The next time you need to recruit a writer, look for someone who's spent time on the stage.
16. They're accepting of all people
Outside of the farce that is High School Musical, drama kids are typically not the top of food chain at high schools. The drama department frequently takes in the outsiders, nerds, creative weirdos and the like - and we all learn to love each other.