Why Take Drama?
Lots of students will tell you that theater classes are a waste of time. "It's just for actors-wannabees and show-offs!"
Oh no, my friend. It's so much more. Even if you have no desire to become a working actor, drama can improve your grades in almost all of your other classes.
According to a recent study, “quality high school theatre experiences can not only significantly influence but even accelerate adolescent development and provide residual, positive, lifelong impacts throughout adulthood.” The survey further concludes that studying theatre can:
empower one to think and function improvisationally in dynamic and ever-changing contexts.
deepen and accelerate development of an individual’s emotional and social intelligences.
expand one’s verbal and nonverbal communicative dexterity in various presentational modes.
#1: Leave Your Speech Class Speechless
After taking a few drama classes, a speech class will be a snap. Public speaking is one of the most common (and one of the most intense) fears. A good theater class will eradicate this phobia. Drama class will help you stay calm while all eyes are upon you. You'll learn posture, poise, eye-contact and projection.
Also, when you are debating in a political-science class, or perhaps participating in a mock-trial at law school, dramatic skills will add power and emotion to your statements. You will outshine your shy, uncomfortable classmates. And your instructor will be thrilled to give you an "A".
#2: Get a Jump on Literature
Throughout your school years, English teachers are bound to throw a few plays at you. But by taking Drama you'll already be ahead of the game. Theater class will make you well versed not only in Shakespeare, but in Ibsen, Shaw, Miller, and Chekhov as well -- all of which are playwrights commonly studied in literature classes. By performing scenes from these plays, you'll receive one-on-one feedback with your drama instructor and gain insight into writing literature essays.
Not to mention, your dramatic reading skills will turn you into a poetry-reciting genius. Volunteer your dramatic services, and you are certain to earn lots of participation points from your English professor.
#3: Make History and Science Come Alive
Now, theater training won't help you pass a multiple choice test. However, drama skills will make any oral presentation a truly inspiring experience. Classes such as history and science tend to bore students, but that shouldn't be the case! My best professors have been storytellers at heart, science and history instructors with a flair for the dramatic.
When you present a project, don't just rely on Powerpoint and a monotone voice. Use acting skills to energize your presentation. Become an impassioned narrator. Your instructor will give you brownie points for keeping the rest of the class enthralled.
#4: Dig Deep in Psychology Class
Actors spend hours exploring psychological questions.
What's my motivation?
Why would my character do this?
What does this action represent?
Therefore, it seems natural that psychology and drama go hand in hand. Take all of the self-reflexive questions you would generate in a drama class and apply the same line of reasoning when writing psychological profiles about real-life case studies.
Here's a list of twenty-five skills, traits, and qualities of personality that are usually well-developed in individuals who complete four years of undergraduate theatre study.
Take special note of them. They are more extensive and important than perhaps you recognize.
As you think about them, consider how many of these advantages are unique to theatre majors--and that you have far more advantages than majors in most other disciplines.
1. Oral Communication Skills
Many students find that theatre helps them develop the confidence that's essential to speaking clearly, lucidly, and thoughtfully.
2. Creative Problem Solving Abilities
Most major companies believe that a creative problem-solver will become a good employee. That's you .
3. More than "get it done"
But theatre students learn that just "getting it done" isn't enough. Not at all. You learn to take pride in doing things at your very best level. Of course an employer will value that trait.
4. Motivation and Commitment
Many theatre students learn to transfer that attribute from theatre to other activities such as classes and jobs. For employers, that positive attitude is essential.
5. Willingness to Work Cooperatively
In theatre, it's important that each individual supports the others involved. Employers will be pleased to know that you understand how to be a team player.
6. The Ability to Work Independently
In theatre, you're often assigned tasks that you must complete without supervision. Crew chiefs. Directing. Putting together this flat, finding that prop, working out characterization outside of rehearsals. It's left up to you to figure out how best to achieve the goal. The ability to work independently is a trait employers look for in their workers.
7. Time-budgeting Skills
When you're a student, being involved in theatre forces you to learn how to budget your time. Good time management skills are enormously important to employers.
The complexities of a theatrical production demand individuals who are willing to voluntarily undertake any task that needs to be done in order for the production to succeed. In theatre, we're all self-starters. We learn how to take initiative, to move a project from initial concept to finality--and to do it well.
9. Promptness and Respect for Deadlines
Theatre demands that you learn to arrive on time and meet scheduled deadlines.
10. Acceptance of Rules
In theatre you work within the structure of a set of procedures and rules that deal with everything from shop safety to behavior at auditions, rehearsals and work calls. You learn that you must be a "good follower." Theatre teaches you the importance of rules, a concept that's valued in any organization.
11. The Ability to Learn Quickly-- AND Correctly
Theatre students, whether they're memorizing lines or learning the technical aspects of a production, must have the ability to absorb a vast quantity of material quickly--and accurately . Your work in college theatre will show that you have the ability to grasp complex matters in a short period of time, a highly-valued trait to employers.
12. Respect for Colleagues
In theatre you discover that a successful production requires contributions from everybody who's involved. Mutual respect is essential. Working on a production teaches us to respect and trust the abilities and talents of our colleagues. A prospective employer will appreciate the fact that you have learned the importance of respecting your co-workers.
13. Respect for Authority
Only one person can be in charge of any given portion of a production. The director. The shop foreman. The tech director. The designer. Theatre teaches you to willingly accept and respect authority. That's a trait employers look for in their workers.
14. Adaptability and Flexibility
Theatre students must be adaptable and flexible. You need to be willing to try new ideas, accept new challenges, and have the ability to adapt to constantly changing situations and conditions.
15. The Ability to Work Under Pressure
Theatre work often demands long hours. There's pressure--often, as you know well, a lot of pressure. It's important that everyone involved with a production be able to maintain a cooperative and enthusiastic attitude under pressure. The ability to remain poised under such tensions in an asset that will help you cope with stress in other parts of your life, including your job.
16. A Healthy Self-Image
To work in theatre, you must know who you are and how to project your individuality. But at the same time, it's important to recognize the need to make yourself secondary to the importance of a production. This is a tricky balance that, although difficult to accomplish, is a valuable trait that employers treasure.
17. Acceptance of Disappointment-- And Ability to Bounce Back
Theatre people learn to deal with dashed hopes and rejection on a regular basis. Who hasn't failed to get a role he or she really wanted or a coveted spot on a tech crew? You learn to accept that kind of disappointment and move on. You try again. Employers need workers who are resilient enough to bounce back from this kind of frustration.
Theatre demands that you learn how to control your life. More than other students, you are forced to make choices between keeping up with responsibilities and doing things you'd rather do. You learn to govern yourself. An employer will respect that ability.
19. A Goal-Oriented Approach to Work
Many aspects of theatre involve setting and achieving specific goals. In employer's terms, you've learned to be task-oriented and capable of finding practical ways to achieve goals.
Busy theatre students, involved in a production or other theatre projects while also taking a heavy academic load, must learn to concentrate if they are to succeed. Acting classes in particular stress concentration, and once you have learned that skill as an actor, it can be transferred to other activities.
As you work in theatre you learn to dedicate your very being--to doing your best to create a successful production. There is dedication to that show...to your home theatre...to theatre as an art.
22. A Willingness to Accept Responsibility
Theatre students sometimes have an opportunity that is seldom given to students in other disciplines--the chance to take on sole responsibility for a special project. Being a production stage manager...a designer...a crew chief...a director. Students with other majors seldom have anything even close to these lessons. You can expect employers to value this unusual ability.
23. Leadership Skills
As a theatre student, you have many opportunities to assume leadership roles. You may, for example, assist a director or designer and lead other volunteers, serve as a crew chief, or even design or direct a production yourself. In the nurturing environment of theatre, faculty help you learn from mistakes so you become a better leader. Leadership training like this can open the possibility for comparable opportunities in a company that hires you. Can you think of any other major that offers this opportunity?
Theatre training teaches you confidence in yourself. Your accomplishments in theatre show you that you can handle a variety of jobs, pressures, difficulties and responsibilities. You develop a "Yes, I can!" attitude. Of course an employer will treasure that.
25. Enjoyment -- "This is Fun!"
You've discovered already that theatre people mystify civilians when we say we're having fun. Non-theatre folk shake their heads when we tell them that, and they ask how it is possible to have "fun" in a job that keeps us working night after night, sometimes until after midnight, doing something that calls for a grinding rehearsal or work schedule day after day after day, that makes us miss going to a movie or a concert. "That's fun?"
Yes. It is. We've learned how to find enjoyment in what we do. That's a valuable attribute.
We can adapt that to other jobs, find ways to enjoy other activities. That positive attitude will mean a great deal to any employer.
AND MORE. MUCH, MUCH MORE
You get the idea. That list of 25 advantages is a start. No doubt you can add to it.