Happy World Theater for Children and Young People Day! As you know, I love improv. It’s a fantastic art form often pushing me past my limits. However, my experience in the performing world began in theatre. Always a part of my life, I was finally able to study it in (one) collegiate course. There, our professor taught an invaluable life lesson: ask why.
Go to the theatre, she said. Experience, feel your emotions. Then ask why. If you hated it, why? If you loved it, why? If it made you furious, why? By asking what did we learn from our reactions, we get to know ourselves more deeply.
An article in today’s Huffington Post focused on one movement, Theatre for Young People. Similar to my professor’s lesson of teaching us to go deeper, the author mentioned her friend’s brilliant explanation of what the dramatic arts can teach:
“Theater is like a gym for empathy. It’s where we can go to build up the muscles of compassion, to practice listening and understanding and engaging with people that are not just like ourselves. We practice sitting down, paying attention and learning from other people’s actions. We practice caring.”
Theatre also invites you to remain in the present moment. Sure, you can daydream and wander off in your mind, but most likely something will be said or done that brings you back to the stage. You can’t change the channel. You can’t talk to a friend. But you can be fully captivated. Fully in the moment.
I’d like to share that mindfulness. As the theme for this year’s World Theater for Children and Young People Day is “Take A Child to the Theatre”, I think I might call up two tweens I know and invite them to a play. Maybe they will exercise empathy or listening. Maybe they will feel special or inspired. Or just maybe, they will be pushed past their limits and ask why they had limitations in the first place.
Yes, why indeed?