Drama: Beyond Curtains

“All the world’s a stage on which we present ourselves constantly, in an ever shifting range of roles and personas. Drama is the rehearsal room for the presentation of ourselves” -Shakespeare’s Canon programme.

Creative minds, the ability to adapt oneself to a variety of situations and the skill of public speaking are what drives society forwards. A subject which unites these skills is Drama. Despite Drama being offered in many schools for a number of years, it still does not have the same status as other subjects. This article will challenge the stereotype that Drama is simply performing a play. In fact, through this article, the reader will see that it offers more skills than conventional subjects.

To begin, Drama allows people to develop their creativity which is vital for the development of a student’s learning. Creativity allows students to express themselves and enables them to invent ideas. The opportunity for students to explore their learning by ‘constructing’ ideas in the world around them, lays the foundations for good mental wellbeing and an ability to think critically. The New Zealand Curriculum describes Drama as: “A creative environment that asks students to use their imaginations to invent worlds and portray characters either through improvisation or through a thought-out, rehearsed production.” (National Monitoring Study of Student Achievement) This, over time, would prove advantageous to the overall education of a student as, through the medium of Drama, they are pushed to use their intellect and explore ingenuity.

Secondly, Drama allows us to adapt ourselves to any situation. This was researched by Kevin Brown, Associate Professor of Theatre, University of Missouri. Brown states that: “Theatre is a cultural space where society examines itself in a mirror…It helps us understand how our minds and the minds of others work.” (Kevin Brown The Top Ten Reasons Why Theatre is Still Important in the Twenty-First Century). This evidences the  idea of empathy – the ability to place yourself in another person’s shoes. In a society where mental health is an increasing topic of conversation, Drama allows students to play a part in raising awareness of it, as it explores situations from different perspectives. A Drama technique known as ‘method acting’ allows the actor to replicate the feelings and emotions of another character to better understand them.

Linking to the idea of adapting oneself is the study of ‘kinesics’. The term ‘kinesics’ was coined by Dr. Albert Mehrabian. Mehrabian was interested in studying the ways in which we use our bodies to communicate, both intentionally and unintentionally. In his research, he found that non-verbal movements, such as facial expressions, gestures, posture, and eye contact, played a significant role in how we interact with one another. This research shows how important our actions are when presenting ourselves. Therefore, Drama is already teaching the fundamentals of how to ‘survive’ in all aspects of society, for example in a professional setting, such as a job interview.

Finally, Drama explores the art of effective communication. In the study, “Arts Education in Secondary Schools: Effects and Effectiveness,” it was said by both students and teachers that: “The skill of knowing when to speak, and in what manner, was useful in many different situations, such as public speaking, group discussions, and job interviews.” Communication skills allow for a growth in confidence which benefits the student massively in all areas of their life. This idea challenges the fact that people who succeed in Drama are always confident; rather, it is quite the opposite as acting is the ability to be someone you are not, which allows for the best success. In a school setting, teaching these expressive skills allows for a collaborative atmosphere as students grow the confidence to express their own opinions and build on the ideas of others.

In conclusion, Drama, although not a conventional subject, provides the skills in life to present yourself in a professional manner and adds the ability to critically think in group settings. Personally, Drama has enabled me to thrive in confidence and allows me to develop a better understanding of the community around me. This has helped me to empathise and communicate with people from a range of backgrounds and experiences. Not only is Drama a means of entertainment for society but it also provides the fundamentals of a working society. Let’s raise the profile of drama!

Caitlin A
Year 12 Drama Ambassador