Heathcote has been a hive of activity this week with preparations afoot for this year’s musical drama extravaganza ‘The Witches of Oz’ next week. The children are coping well with the balance of normal academic lessons and a busy full cast rehearsal schedule. There has been a real buzz of excitement about this year’s show since the rehearsals first begun some months ago during drama club and the children are all working really hard to make sure it is a real spectacle for you.
What has really struck me is the children’s amazing teamwork during such events. Not only are they patient and supportive to each other but also thoughtful and considerate too, as they practise their lines and rehearse their songs, take their cues and await their moment of glory!
Drama is an important means of stimulating children’s creativity. It can challenge their perceptions about their world and about themselves. Drama can provide pupils with an outlet for emotions, thoughts and ideas that they might not otherwise have a way to express. A child can, if only for a few moments, become another character, explore a new role, experiment with ideas and solutions to very real problems, maybe from their own life or problems faced by characters in books or history. This can happen in a safe atmosphere, where actions and consequences can be examined, discussed and in a very real sense experienced, without the dangers and pitfalls that such experimentation would obviously lead to in the “real” world.
Furthermore, at the centre of all drama is communication. Children who participate in drama activities are more likely to be confident public speakers. They will be more persuasive in their communications, both written and oral, will be better able to put themselves into others’ shoes and relate to them and will have a more positive, confident self-image. After all, the stage makes space for every pupil, regardless of their strength or ability – even the smallest role can shine just as brightly as the star of the show.
Taking part in drama requires self-control and discipline that will serve a child well in all aspects of their life. Through drama they will learn to work together, to cooperate, to find the best way for each member of a group to contribute and to listen to and accept the viewpoints and contributions of others. No art form is more truly collaborative. Drama is an important tool for preparing students to live and work in a world that is increasingly team-oriented rather than hierarchical.
Drama also helps students develop tolerance and empathy. In order to play a role competently, an actor must be able to really understand how the world looks through another person’s eyes. This does not mean he must agree with every character. In today’s increasingly polarized and intolerant culture, the ability to understand others’ motives and choices is critical. Drama can therefore help to build responsible global citizens.
Drama extends our imagination beyond set boundaries and allows pupils to discover hidden avenues of learning and pathways not yet imagined. If we want our children to be creative thinkers of the future, drama is the way forward. As Einstein said, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them”.