Theatre is that unique art form which lends itself to personal meaning-making for children and requires engagement. Learning as a process has always been defined by meaning-making and successful transfer of knowledge. This is where theatre plays a pivotal role, in empowering children to explore topics in a safe space and facilitating connections with real life.
To understand why drama in schools is so important, we need to consider the roots of drama and its relation to the holistic development of children. The roots of drama lie in dramatic play, which is a very important universal human activity and one that does not need to be confined to the very young. The ability to pretend starts young but stays with us throughout life and can be kept active through drama. After all, it is through play that children make sense of the world around them. It is this very feature that is nurtured in the safe space of drama so they can confidently explore their personal and social issues to find solutions which work for them.
However, this Covid and post-Covid era has pushed the boundaries of creating connections and theatre making. With this pandemic, now, more than ever, we have a deeper craving to connect and make sense of the turbulent times around us. Theatre offers that space for a healthy dialogue and a sense of belonging. Tools of theatre offer the means for children to engage with the world around them. Regular sessions of theatre with young adults have only proven that they yearn for that connection and that reflective space to just be themselves. As Augusto Boal says- “We must all do theatre to find out who we are and to discover who we could become”.
The idea of theatrical literacy is not a glib one – it is an important and universal window into reading and making sense of the world. And how urgently are these skills needed, in a world which seems to be changing by the minute. Just as exposure to reading and writing is considered essential, exposure to the arts nurtures the soul. Theatre is after all, about the relationships created at that moment, which unlocks the heart to plant empathy, curiosity and acceptance. Let us make it our collective responsibility to nurture the souls of our children and take them to the Theatre!
About the Author
A mother of two, Annie studied to be an IT professional, but surprisingly found her passion in theatre. She is a Facilitator of Speech and Drama and has worked with various schools for the past couple of years. She firmly believes in nurturing children’s lives through the medium of theatre and is constantly looking for opportunities to enrich her learning experience in the art of theatre. She feels life is the greatest performance of all and absorbing it to the fullest is the best theatrical experience in itself. In her words- “What fun is it to live life full of drama!”