I get this from parents all the time: “should I enroll my child in an acting class?” Or “should my child do theater?” Being a proud theater nerd, my answer would ALWAYS be YES!! But the deep-seated knowing that I have about why theater is important might not resonate with everyone. (Just as your love of lacrosse is lost on me….) But after 30 years of performing and teaching, here is why I think you should enroll your child in an acting class.
Acting is just communicating. Speaking. Having a conversation. And don’t we all want our kids to be able to carry on an intelligible conversation? Better yet, don’t we want them to be able to stand up in front of a crowd and voice their opinion with ease and confidence? By teaching communication through the guise of “acting,” kids get to create characters, make-believe and become someone else. And sometimes that’s an easier way to get them to speak up.
Acting also helps kids to understand disappointment at an early age. Not everyone gets to be “Annie” and if they can understand how to deal with not always getting the part, they can translate that into other areas of their life. And truly learn that “the sun’ll come out tomorrow.” (I can quote that because I’m good friends with Martin Charnin…
Another reason to take an acting or theater class is that your theater friends are your best friends–most of the time for life. I don’t know if it’s the storytelling, the fact that you have to open up and be vulnerable when you perform or that some theater kids don’t feel like they fit in in the other areas of their life, but when they can be together, a bond is formed like nothing else. I had a mom tell me today that the only thing that motivates her daughter in school is the threat of taking away her Artistree Performance Workshop class. When she asked her why, she said, “it’s my home, my safe place and nobody judges me there.” That’s the power of theater, folks.
And lastly, taking an acting class and creating characters makes you a more empathetic human being. You learn to stand in someone else’s shoes and understand why they think the way they think, move the way they move, speak the way they speak, feel the way the feel. And in that process, you learn to better understand why they do the things they do. If we could all have that trait, we might have a more peaceful and palatable world.
Therefore, all children and politicians should take an acting class. And maybe some regular adults too. Either way, acting and performing help you to be your best self, hopefully on and off the stage. And isn’t that what we all want for our children?