With all of the activities available to kids these days, deciding on what you should get them involved with can be a challenge, especially since you are not just trying to fill up their schedules, but enrich their minds and lives. Acting classes are fun and they instill practical benefits that will help them throughout the course of their lives long after the lessons end.
Self Confidence and Public Speaking – According to The Book of Lists, the fear of public speaking ranks number one in the minds of the majority of people. Far above the fear of heights, confined spaces, disease, and even death comes the fear of standing in front of a crowd. We have been told to picture the crowd in their underwear, but truthfully there are no real tricks to public speaking. It is simply a matter of self confidence.
Acting class is a wonderful way to build self confidence. The class is a “safe haven” for public speaking. Through acting exercises, students become quite used to speaking in front of each other. As they become more comfortable, their confidence increases correspondingly. Character development allows students to feel more confident about public speaking, as it is not they but their characters who are speaking. Additionally acting focuses on vocal projection, articulation, and timing—things that trip up the anxious public speaker. Armed with the confidence gained in class, students take to the stage with ease.
That confidence in themselves and in their ability to speak in public will help them throughout the course of their lives—oral reports, job interviews, first dates, phone skills—the list is endless. The parent of one of our acting students shared with us that the young girl’s teacher told her that all of a sudden the girl was “coming out of her shell” and raising her hand to answer questions in class. The child was a straight-A student and probably always knew the answers; what had changed was that she now carried herself with assuredness. Her mother attributed her newfound confidence to the acting class.
Empathy and Effective Communication – Actors are always embodying new characters. Through character development, the actors have to get in touch with their characters’ thoughts and feelings. They have to figure out what is motivating their characters to do the things they do. Getting in touch with their characters’ thoughts and feelings often helps actors to be more aware of their own thoughts and feelings. A flow is created between using real-life situations to help with their acting and acting experiences to help them deal with real-life situations. Understanding what motivates different characters helps people better understand those around them. This awareness allows actors to empathize with others and communicate effectively. President Ronald Regan was nicknamed “The Great Communicator”. All politics aside, it is clear that the skills he developed as a Hollywood actor helped him to understand the mindset of the American public, so that he could effectively communicate his own beliefs and policies. The ability to empathize and communicate effectively will help students in their personal and professional relationships long after the curtain closes.
Group Dynamics and Cooperation – Another important benefit gained through acting is the ability to work well within a group. Through acting, students learn to take direction, lead, support, and trust others.
Teamwork and cooperation are critical to acting. Then again, can’t almost all activities claim teamwork as a benefit of participation? Team sports require participants to get along and work together as a unit, so what makes acting so unique? The difference is that in sports and other activities, usually the group is homogeneous—all girls, all boys, one age group, one skill level. In putting on a theatrical performance, participants work with a diverse group—different ages, genders, and skill levels.
Participants learn how to interact with a wider scope of people. Younger students learn from older students. Experienced performers encourage the novices. Through the experience they learn about group dynamics, finding their leadership and supporting roles to each other both on and off stage. Each one understanding that the show does not exist without them all.
Source: Kennett Square, PA, Carousel Performing Arts Center