Welcome back to the third and final article in this series looking at Skills in Drama. So far we’ve looked at the difference between knowledge and skills, as well as explore the subject specific skills we find in Drama. In this final session we are going to explore how I see the relationship between Drama and Soft Skills.
For right or for wrong, Drama is renowned for these soft skills.
Soft skills are a cluster of skills that are hard to specifically teach but which are learnt through exposure and experience. Skills such as communication, time management and leadership. Skills that help us in life. Developing these skills are an important part of education. It provides young people with the life skills they need to go out into the world and succeed.
A quick guide to soft skills in Drama
Every aspect of Drama demands preparation and efficient use of time. It also demands a respect for the time you have and encourages you to use your time effectively. There is no time to waste if you want to create and rehearse a performance, so it is ready and by the deadline.
Drama productions and classes develop a mindset which involves commitment and motivation. Drama teaches students that success comes to those who are highly committed to the task at hand and who are willing to work together.
Advanced problem-solving, along with creative thinking, are used as a foundation of Drama. From the very beginning of making Theatre students are presented with solving a whole series of problem. Problems such as how to communicate to the audience? How to devise a performance from a stimulus? How to interpret a script into a performance? How to develop this character? How to overcome our own fears of performance? Problem solving can be found in every aspect of the subject of Drama.
Collaboration and teamwork.
Drama, by its very nature, demands that anyone working on a project is an integral member of the team. The final product could never be successfully completed without every member working toward the same quality goal. Students also learn that people within teams have different roles, from actors to stage managers. They will learn that there will be people relying on them as much as they rely on others. As such, team members can only be successful if they share a mutual respect for each other’s roles, remits and responsibilities.
During the construction process in all aspects of production, individuals must bring their individual skills to bear on an entire production and each individual aspect must be worked on as a cohesive part of the whole. To be successful in Drama you must be willing to try new ideas, accept new challenges, and be able to adapt to constantly changing situations and conditions
Drama helps develop the good oral communication skills that are essential in speaking clearly, lucidly, and thoughtfully. Working with terms such as pace, annunciation, projection and volume in acting helps us prepare to speak effectively in public. The collaborative process of creating a performance offers opportunities for developing students’ abilities to communicate in a clear, precise, concise and well-organised manner.
Don’t sell Drama on Soft Skills
Soft skills are vital to our own individual success and improvement in life and are certainly anything but soft. Yet they carry this word ‘soft’ with all its connotations of something being negative, weak and not important. It is so easy to make that connection in parents’ and pupils’ minds that Drama is a soft option, acting around and developing soft skills. Therefore, I think we need to be careful about the portrayal of these in Drama. I wish we could move on from the term soft skills and make them more specific, give them the value and recognition they deserve. They are a wonderful outcome for Drama, but they are not the reason for teaching Drama.
Ultimately, I think we do our subject a massive disservice by defending it all the time by referring to these skills as a purpose of studying Drama. It builds a false understanding of the subject in the students minds and creates a divide between the students expectations of the subject and the realities of how it is taught and, more importantly, assessed.