Why we must keep teaching Drama during COVID 19.

What do I say at this point? The entire world is in the grips of an international pandemic. People are dying. Even more numbers are desperately ill. Even more numbers are stuck in desperate situations. Poverty. Abuse. Violence. Addiction. And I’m going to write about Drama?

What’s the point? What can talking about Drama help at a time like this? Why is Drama important at a time like this? What can Drama bring when the world is on fire?

The point is simple really. Drama is really important at a time like this.

I believe that Drama plays a major role in our lives. We experience real-life Drama in the form of our own personal experiences. We come across the Drama of others in news and current affairs. We encounter fictional Drama in film, television, and theatre. The concept of Drama is all around us. Drama is life. It’s the life that happens around us. If there is ever a time in our lives when the world is full of Drama, it is what is happening now.

Through the study of Drama, we can see how these encounters with Drama shape us and inform us. We can see how others use Drama to sculpt our media, manipulate it and control it. We can learn to do the same.

By studying Drama’s impact on our lives and culture, we can begin to understand how it affects us. We can begin to understand how we can use it to shape our own lives. We can start making informed decisions about all the Drama that we see, experience and take part in.

Drama allows us to become intelligent spectators. We become able to distinguish between what is good and bad drama. Drama can also help us make a distinction between ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ ideologies. Drama can provide the motivation to start to check our own values and beliefs. It helps us to reflect on them and make them more secure for the future.

Drama widens our perspective. It helps us to develop a greater understanding and empathy with others. It develops compassion for those immediately around us, our community and our society. It helps us to review, understand and improve the relationships we have.

Drama involves using emotions, creativity and risk. It requires trust. Drama builds communication, listening and cooperation skills. It helps us to understand how to work with other people. It helps us understand the importance of working together. Drama and Theatre encourages resilience, empathy, engagement, self-development and good citizenship.

In times of crisis we look to the Arts. We look to music, to art and to drama for these reasons. We find passion and compassion. We find sources of comfort and love. We discover about ourselves and about others. We share our discoveries and we experience the discoveries of others. A shared experience. A shared narrative. A shared drama.

And in these times of despair, hope prevails. Not because we may or may not see the end of the crisis. Not because of political decisions, directives or decrees. Not based on any one individuals efforts.

But hope builds from within us, built through our connection with the arts. We look to the likes of our National Theatres, Netflix, The BBC and Disney. We look to museums and musicians. To art. To literature. To film. To sport. Some are big organisations. Some individuals. All filling us with hope.

Little lights and big lights. All fixed points to help us guide our way through it. To manage it all. To help create, curate and construct our shared response to these terrible times. To write our shared narrative. Our story.

So Drama is important in these times. Perhaps more important than you think.

It is helping us get through these times each and every night as we switch on the TV, the Radio, the news. Whatever we watch, listen to or consume. Whatever our age, background or wealth. Every time we engage with the narrative around us, we open the potential to learn something about us; ourselves, our families, our societies or our world.

So the work we do and the online work we set, whilst not at the frontline, is not trivial. It has the power and potential to help us see our way through this. To help us interrogate and question the narrative around us. To question future narratives. To inspire change, growth and hope.

I’d like to finish with the quote from Picasso, “we all know that art is not the truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth, at least the truth that is given to us to understand.