by Corianna Lee

Students involved in drama reap many benefits from participating in their local school program. Whether they are an actor or a technician, they claim it changes their lives. For all the lifelong thespians out there reading this, many of you are probably nodding “yes” to all of this. March was “Theatre in our Schools” month, and campuses all over the nation celebrated how theatre enhances and changes the lives of students. Theatre, among other arts, is required by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which recognizes it as a core class required for a “well-rounded” education for students. But what are the benefits of theatre to students?

According to the blog post “79 Reasons Students Need to Study Drama in High School” published in October 20 12 by a drama teacher, students learn everything from history, to cultural awareness and self esteem in drama class. Many of the skills acquired in theatre, including commitment, professionalism, team work, interpersonal skills, creativity and critical thinking, are the skills that employers are looking for in future employees.

Here is an excerpt from the 79 reasons that students benefit from theatre in our schools:
“You will learn empathy and identification. Drama opens up new dimensions of emotional experiences. By observing other people’s creative processes and products, it can assist you in accessing emotions, along with understanding different ways of interpreting and understanding information. In drama we express ideas, observations and feelings by making choices about roles and/or characters.

It will increase your ability to think – creatively, imaginatively and divergently. You will learn how to think outside the square. Drama teaches students how to become critical consumers, rather than just passive viewers. Students are expected to question and critique their own and others’ processes and products.

You will develop higher order thinking skills. We can often be limited by our own attitudes and beliefs. Drama requires us to view things from multiple perspectives, inviting us to share control of a narrative among different players. This automatically widens our perspectives, allowing us to synthesize and evaluate information at a much higher level.”

Theatre is the one art form that combines nearly all other art forms and reaches cross- culturally over content areas and into societies to tell our stories and give meaning to the world around us. Theatre provides students the skills they need to be successful in the future.