• Crystal Griffith

Where Theater and Education Collide

Why is theater so important anyways? How does it inspire us and what does this mean as we grow older?

I've always loved theater, really as long as I can remember. But when did that love first start? For me, personally, I was just thinking about this the other day and I realized my earliest inspirations had to be church choir productions and the opportunity to see live theater. But while the church choir deal was a no brainer (mom dropped me off and actually taught the 3rd graders herself, so we were ALWAYS going to be at church), the live theater part was entirely different. You see, not every family has a habit of attending plays, and I cannot recall a single play my parents took me to at a young age. It was the local theaters infusing this awareness into my life by A. performing shows and skits at school or B. inviting our graded classes out to see a theatrical performance as a field trip. THEY reached out, and no, me in a choir on a riser singing my heart out was not the same experience (although valuable from a musical and spiritual standpoint) as sitting in a seat and observing someone else performing in front of me. That's why we make it a priority to invite other local school children to see our Christmas productions at the Eisemann each season. You have to reach out and yes, they will come and be inspired. I know I was.

But what is so important about it? Well, for me there was nothing quite as amazing as seeing OTHER children on stage acting. They were a gentle reminder to me that "yeah, I could do that too." Sometimes adults can't quite connect with a child in the same way another child or youth actor can. Kids have to see themselves there, or if not as a performer, maybe a character in the show, or deeper still, someone hurting like that character on stage is hurting. I love how professional the local children's theaters are, but I relish the opportunity to get actual kids on stage performing for other kids (mind you the school schedules for missing class are a whole other matter, but schools have shown flexibility to our young performers before). For our child actors, it gives them something fun to do. For the teens, it builds confidence. I remember being the quiet and shy type. I always struggled to find friends or just to speak. But on stage I transformed. I cannot tell you how many children I have seen take that first step onto the stage opening night (maybe their first show ever) and completely transform into...not someone else....no, into a stronger, more defined version of THEMSELVES! Every child becomes a teen, who becomes an adult, who becomes an older adult, and we all have to find a profession one day. Will we have to give an office presentation? How about negotiate a higher salary? Tackle an issue in the board room with all the suits staring at you, waiting for you to sweat? Sure....many of us don't know how, but one day we wake up and that's our life. In my opinion, all the theatrical moments in front of the curtain have given me the confidence I need to handle the rest of my Monday through Friday, 9-5 way of living. And I can't wait to see how theater transforms the next person.