Theater fosters empathy
Empathy is a learning skill, and theater inherently teaches empathy through storytelling in which we connect our own experiences to that of the characters. As Atticus Finch states in To Kill A Mockingbird, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… until you climb in his skin and walk around in it.” By observing the world through the lens of empathy, we cultivate a greater capacity to appreciate all people with the hopes of creating a better, more equitable world.
When participants empathize, they begin to bridge the distance between self and others. They also begin to experience the “other” as human — as human as themselves."Augusto Boal
During these dramatic experiences [of empathy], human interactions provide an outlet for expression that allows participants to gain knowledge of themselves, their peers, and their environment."Foram A. Bhukhanwala, Augusto Boal, and Mady Schutzman
Theater facilitates literacy.
Theater has a unique quality in that it engages the reader through visually-based storytelling. The effect of this quality can inspire students of all ages to make lasting positive connections and memories to literacy. This, in turn, will create both life-long readers as well as patrons of the arts for years to come.
Reading is not walking on the words; it’s grasping the soul of them."Paolo Friere
Theater inspires collaboration.
Collaboration provides various opportunities for students to learn transferable skills throughout their educational journey. Collaboration allows students’ voices to be heard and gives them the opportunity to explore in a safe environment. All tasks are equally important when creating art. There are no hierarchies. It inspires honest and clear communication, creates inherent accountability to the collective, and fosters leadership within a group dynamic.
If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else."Booker T. Washington
Theater incites social change.
Theater has the ability to incite change, in both ourselves and our world. There is a responsibility to teach our young people how to be both an active participant and spectator in social change through the arts. This can come in many forms, but the most important thing is give our youth the tools to activate theater in an authentic way that continues to examine our world and push the needle towards social change.