It makes me sad that in a week where 25 hours are spent learning in school, only one of those hours is spent doing a subject such as drama. That’s how it is in my son’s school and I’m sure it is much the same in most schools. Maths and English both have four hours of learning per week. Science has three, MFL and PE two, and Computer Studies, Technology, RE, History, Geography, Music, Art and Drama only one. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a criticism of our Schools – I totally understand they have so much to squeeze into so little time. But I would like to make the point that there are some things that truly benefit the growth of our children. For me storytelling is one of the greatest things we can share with a child. Obviously I am a great advocate of books but there are so many other ways for a child or adult to be immersed into a story.
What can’t be done in school can be found outside…
I speak from experience when I say that participating in a drama group can promote growth in confidence, ability and social skills. My son joined a local drama group two years ago. A friend went and so he asked if he could give it a try and he’s never looked back. The courage I have seen him show has been inspiring. He isn’t a wallflower but generally he won’t always push himself forward and yet since joining he has acted, danced (a little) and sung (solo too!) on stage in front of a crowd of strangers. It is a place where he is happy and eager to participate. It is wonderful to see.
From workshops to the stage
Last night we went to watch him in their latest production, an adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen written by Adrian Mitchelle and Robert Peaslee. The tale takes us through a magical adventure exploring friendship, bravery, standing up against wickedness and believing in each other. Two hours long, it was a celebration of every member of the ensemble and crew. They were amazing. The lines learnt, the little dance routines and the songs sung alongside a live piano were impressive. It was a delightful show, highlighting the personality of each actor and allowing them to immerse themselves into the story. It must have been a magical experience for them. Of course that’s not to say they find it easy. I’m sure there are many tears and much needed encouragement but in this respect it teaches them resilience in a safe, loving environment.
An early love of stories
When my Master Fallows was very young we used to love watching films together. He would disappear completely into the world he was watching and after one or two watches be able to recite the entire film and act alongside it. He does have a knack for memorising lines but he always seemed reluctant to perform infront of others. We were surprised and of course delighted that soem years later he wanted to give drama a go, even though it was unnerving for him. It’s never too late.
Everyone can contribute
Even if your child does not like being on stage there is always some way to be involved. Our local drama group of choice is Fables Theatre Company. It is run by Sophie, a charismatic, confident life force that pushes when needed but is also kind and inspiring. Her desire, I feel, is to make sure that each and every member feels involved, IS involved. She has a super team working alongside her that always make the sessions fun. There are plenty of ways to do so on stage and back stage and I’m sure she can tempt even the shyest to do a little something and discover their hidden magic. Each term offers plenty of opportunities to try new things and discover new skills. Each session lasts for two hours and there is the option to attend two sessions a week.
Yesterday morning before we took Master Fallows to the theatre he admitted to having butterflies. Excited, nervous butterflies but good ones. He is just coming to the end of his first term in Year 7. It’s been a tricky time what with one thing and another but he always finds his happy place at Drama. He had a great time and so did we watching him and the entire cast. After a long day he returned home exhausted but I think thrilled to have been a part of it all.
Give it a go
If you’ve never considered a drama club then may I suggest finding a local one and perhaps trying your child with a taster? There are so many benefits. Team work, discovering new skills, confidence and self-esteem building, fun, laughter, new friends and of course disappearing into the wonderful world of a story. Creativity is an incredible thing to embrace whether as an actor, singer, set designer, director, lighting…the list goes on. These days our children can be overwhelmed with the pressure that constant tests, school life, friendship issues, not to mention the technology they now have to contend with. To remove them from that, if only for a short time each week, is only a good thing.
To find out more about Fables Theatre Company visit their Facebook page here.