This is my manifesto for Drama in Education and why I believe that teaching Drama and Theatre to young people, and working with young people through the medium of Drama and Theatre, is very important.
Fundamentally I believe in teaching the art of making theatre, and studying the theatre of others, makes people better people and equips them with the skills they need to make a success of themselves in whatever field of employment they go into the future.
I believe that all young people from the very start of their education to the age of 14 (and beyond) should have access to Drama and Theatre in their curriculum and that that Drama and Theatre is treated with the respect and esteem as a subject that other subjects in the curriculum receive.
The concept of Drama plays a major role in our lives. We all experience ‘real life’ drama in the form of our own personal experiences as well as ‘real life’ drama in the news and current affairs. We are also exposed to fictional drama in film, on television, and in the theatre. By studying drama’s impact on our culture we can start to look more critically at what these media offer us and we can choose whether or not to accept the messages that they give. By studying Drama we become intelligent spectators who can distinguish not only between what is good and bad drama, but it also helps us to make a distinction between ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ ideologies as well. We can start making informed decisions about all the drama that we see.
Through the research that we do into the theatre that we make and the theatre that we study, we learn multiple facets about different cultures, societies and histories. As we do so, we constantly make connections between those different cultures, societies and histories and our own. Through Drama and Theatre we begin to see our place in world, the influences and impacts that have generated our individual perspectives and indeed how we influence and impact the perspectives of others. Drama and Theatre widens our perspective.
It helps us to develop a greater understanding and empathy with those immediately around us, in the form of their friends and family, of those in our immediate local community, wider society in general and, perhaps most importantly, ourselves.
Studying Drama and Theatre both requires and develops emotional maturity, and it gives students a deep understanding of themselves.
The study of Drama and Theatre does not only involve using our voices and bodies but also emotions, creativity, risk, empathy and understanding it is able to engender a deep sense of self-esteem.
Drama and Theatre requires a great deal of peer trust, and so it plays an important role in teaching communication, listening and empathy skills. You are often asked to participate in group work, it helps us to explore relationships on and off stage. It helps with building self-confidence, speaking in public, and developing interpersonal skills. Drama and Theatre encourages resilience, empathy, engagement, self-development and good citizenship. Drama and Theatre helps us to be more aware how our physical presentation can affect the way people see us.
Studying Drama and Theatre is demanding, and teaches students that success only comes from hard work.
Ethically, the study of Drama and Theatre can provide the motivation to start to evaluate our own values and beliefs, reflect on them and make them more secure for the future.