Why Theatre is important to young people

Okonkwo and his three wives; a scene from Arthur Kisenyi's stage adaptation of Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart
The Final scene of INCONTROL Reloaded as directed by Arthur Kisenyi for awareness on Asthma
Pamela Komuhendo, Carol Namawejje and Edwin Ssekatawa in the final scene of the Dynamo Theatre production of Tunde Euba’s INCONTROL Reloaded

The Dynamo Definition of Theatre

Theatre is a combination of the performing arts of Music, Dance, Drama, and Acrobatics to educate, communicate, sensitize, and mobilize but most of the time entertain.

Young people get exposed to this as early as kindergarten as music dance, and drama makes learning easy and smooth for the younglings. They start by singing the alphabet and numbers until they know what each of them means. Around Primary 4, they start using the same to compete and try to win at being the best in either music, dance, or drama. This is done with teams as Theatre is an ensemble activity.

When they join Secondary school, these young people start miming songs and writing their own songs. Schools at around the age of 10 start recording school albums and launching them, selling copies and tickets too.

However, at university, everyone starts being against all sorts of performing arts, citing that their children will get spoilt, learn bad manners, and lose focus among other things. So this is the time that we learn how important the arts and in particular Theatre which combines all of the art forms for young people.

Why Theatre is important to young people

When they Participate in Theatre Activities

Participating here means taking part as an actor, dancer, singer, director, costume designer, sound person, and writer, among other roles that make the Theatre complete. When young people take part in Theatre in any capacity, they benefit in many ways which include the following;

They develop good communication practices.

Working in Theatre gives one the opportunity to work with other people with different strengths, weaknesses, and capabilities. However, all these people are needed for a production to be successful. This calls for each participant to be very social and tolerant, which are very important skills in the world. Theatre also makes one able to express themselves even in front of big audiences. Once one loses the fear of addressing big audiences in a very effective way, they are then developing into a very good communicator for life.

Teaches Empathy
Theatre directors will ask actors to walk in someone else’s shoes, take the position of a new character and see things from that character’s point of view. It is an excellent way to work on their acting skill but also that empathy in the communities where these young people live. We all know that a person without empathy not only lives a miserable life but he/she makes those around him/her miserable too.

Develops Creative Thinking and Problem Solving among the youngsters
No one can know the future regardless of your level of education and be creative in whatever situation you may find yourself in is very important for us all. Because actors have to think about what a character they have never seen would do under all kinds of situations, they end up learning to creatively solve problems in everyday life. These skills, when a young person starts theatre, will start to show in the first few months.

Theatre relieves stress

Ask anyone in their 40s if they were ever stressed in their teens and chances are that they will ask you; “for what”.
This is different for young people these days; many go to the extent of committing suicide because of stress. Stress however is most of the time increased by the lack of interesting and creative things to do. Many young people are interested in writing, dancing, singing, and acting which are all activities of Theatre. When engaged in something they love, you will find that young people have less stress to deal with. This is because they have plenty to do, to talk about, and to think creatively about.

When they watch

When young people watch Theatre, there are also many benefits that they derive from this. Let’s explore them as well.

The best Entertainment for young people

Because when we talk about Theatre, we are most likely talking about live performances, it is the best form of entertainment. This is because it can be redirected in real-time should the audience begin to doze or should the director realize that the audience is not getting the point. I am not talking about the classic kind of Theatre, I am talking about the kind of Theatre that we practice here at Dynamo. Should our audience begin to talk, it means they are either bored or do not understand what we are doing. We solve this by either changing the approach, slang or simply put, improvising with supervision. OIurr actors have mastered this art and we believe that with performances like this, young people will be entertained at all times.

Theatre teaches Patience to us all

Young people who attend live theater learn patience and concentration. Unlike television which changes images every three to four seconds, theater requires concentration for a sustained period of time. Because theater is communal, people of all ages also learn how to sit quietly and respect others for longer periods of time. Tell me you don’t believe this is very good and I will teach you again.

Theatre is one way for us to mobilize, sensitize and educate young people.

Due to the live nature, Theatre can be used to engage the audience, making sure that each of the audience members has learned something, understood something or is willing to do something afterward. There is no other art form that gives us as much power. With Theatre we can actually fuel the change we need to see.

In conclusion, next time your son, daughter, sibling, or relative wants to either go watch or participate in Theatre, remember what you have read here today and support them.

Read my article on how Drama is the best tool for Mass Communication

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