Live theatre has so many benefits for young people as any Drama teacher worth their salt will passionately tell you. It reaches us in a way that no movie or television show possibly can. We are so used to fighting for our cause at school that we have memorised the rhetoric by heart.
While being involved in the Performing Arts is extremely beneficial for the development of young children, being exposed to live theatre teaches them some of the most important life skills any well-mannered adult should possess. I previously outlined the benefits of learning a musical instrument after our son had his first violin lesson and I was inspired by my children once more when we took them to see a recent production of Mary Poppins a local school was putting on. Don't get me wrong, I love Mary Poppins. The movie, the stage show, the music, the dancing, it's just so, well, magical. Unfortunately, this production was less magical as it was very long (3hrs) & slow moving which our kids (particularly the 2yr old) struggled with. Despite the lovely 3hrs I spent taking the toddler to the toilet, carrying her out because she was crying, chasing her up the aisle and stopping her spilling her complementary water all over the carpet I was still left thinking that it was a valuable experience for our children to have. You may think that I have completely lost my mind but here are just a few of the very important life lessons children learn when exposed to live performance:
- They learn to sit still and focus on something for a long period of time helping them develop patience and concentration.
- They learn how to be polite by clapping performers.
- They learn etiquette such as not talking during a show out of respect for the other audience members.
- They learn about human interactions through the characters and stories they are seeing.
- They learn, through modelling, appropriate emotional responses from characters on stage and other audience members.
- They learn to appreciate the art of theatre and all of its wonders.
So while I didn’t particularly have a fun afternoon trying to wrangle the children through a 3hr musical I have no doubt that we will do it again and it will be after that moment that I re-read this post and say "ah that's why we tortured ourselves again, for the good of human kind".