Theater & Teaching
The best theater practitioners understand how is just as important, if not more important, as what. The best teachers do as well. The theater artist puts a large focus on how to connect as opposed to what to connect with. For example, Macbeth has been performed thousands and thousands (and thousands) of times since it was first written in the early 17th century and people still go to see Macbeth. Why? Well, people are going because they are interested in how a group of directors, designers, and actors perform that script. As we discussed earlier, a similar principle applies to teachers. Let’s say Physics is the script. Physics will always be Physics to your students, but how the teacher teaches it is what matters.
The best theater practitioners innovate. Particularly in the 21st century, you can imagine how difficult it may be to interest an audience enough to not only come to the theater, but to also interest and engage them once they have arrived. The best of the theater practitioners are always using as many means and tools necessary to surprise and interest their audience. The use of projections, more interactive sets, and environments, live music, the list goes on and on. Just as teachers go above and beyond to help a student become engaged so they may understand, and learn, so must a theater person go above and beyond to help audience member become engaged so they too may understand and learn.
The best theater practitioners perform and execute well. It is not remiss to any one that understands theater that when it is time to perform you must give it your all. There is the practice and there is the performance. There is a moment that a theater person must step out in front of others and unflinchingly tell the story for the audience. If they screw up or stumble, they must continue on without distraction. The teacher must prepare as well, and most importantly, they must always step out and follow through for their audience just as the actor.
As you can see amongst these few concepts there are major themes that bond education to the theater. The teacher quickly becomes a performer for an audience. The study of theater has proven to be a vehicle for conversations amongst groups of people for centuries. The study and practice of theater has created spaces of permission where creativity can grow, places where hard questions can be asked, and where explanations are developed. To top if off, those well trained in the theater have potential to be wonderful students of empathy, sociology, and psychology. Those who study theater can have a secure awareness of self, physically and mentally. They are well trained in observing, listening, understanding and connecting with others. Theater people are always prepared to make bold, though thoughtful, choices. Most importantly, those well trained in the theater understand how to entertain and have good fun. Does this not sound like the ideal teacher?