Letter: A theatre education
To the Editor:
Theatre is more than you might think it is. The next time you’re watching an RHS theatre production, remember this: a lot happens behind the scenes to put the production together.
Consider the STEM skills that go into lighting, sound, and other technical elements. Lighting and sound students employ geometry, physics, engineering, and technology skills in their work. Building the set is an engineering project; painting the set requires skilled artistry. There is a history lesson behind the time period of the play. Studying a play’s cultural and theatrical context and its production history helps make sense of the playwright’s words and informs the stylistic choices of the production, such as costumes, sets, and character interpretations. There is an acquired knowledge of literature and countless other topics that comes from reading many plays, which will contribute to the reader’s (and listener’s) worldview. ESPN released data on the athleticism theater requires: actors show stamina comparable to world-class soccer players, can walk three miles in a single performance, and, in musical theatre, frequently sing and dance at 80% of their maximum heart rate (a marathon runner averages 70%).
The Educational Theatre Foundation found that students who participate in theatre outperform students who do not in creative problem solving, collaboration, empathy (their job is to put themselves in someone else’s shoes), creative fluency, and critical thinking skills. By creating a community of students that becomes like a family, theatre reduces high school dropout rates and improves students’ overall happiness. Furthermore, students who participate in theatre or any art form perform on average about 90 points higher on the SAT than students with no arts experience, and about 50 points higher than the national average.
So much work and skill go into a production, and many benefits come out of it. What you see at showtime is just the tip of the iceberg.
Ridgfield High School, class of 2019
Editor’s note: The writer is a freshman studying theatre at Columbia University. He participated in 13 theatre productions during his time at RHS.