I am not a theater critic. I am not an actor. I am not a child-raising expert. I am not a counselor. I am of no authority when it comes to what I am about to write.
What I am is a parent of a child who has recently completed a community theater production.
My daughter has no been in three community theater productions; each one has been a wonderful experience for her, and me.
9 Reasons why I appreciate community theater:
1.) Inter-generational learning experiences. This production had actors ranging in age from 70+ to 10. In a day and age when our communities are becoming more isolated having children interact with unrelated parents and grandparents is increasingly more difficult to come by.
2.) No ‘bleacher directors’. In sport it is very easy for parents to get involved in ways that are detrimental to what the coach is attempting to accomplish. At no point in time did I hear a parent yell misguided ‘encouragement’ from the 4th row. I don’t know this for sure, but I’d also wager a bet that parents didn’t approach the director and demand more lines for their all-star actor.
3.) Self-confidence. No matter the part it takes a lot of courage to act, sing, and dance in front of an audience. It was reported during the 3 night run of this performance 1,400 people watched. I don’t know about you, but I, for one, have never done anything in front of 1,400 people.
4.) Team work. Team work is something typically reserved for sport. I would contend that team work is as important in the community theater I have seen. No one is getting paid, everyone is doing it for the love of the performance. No one wants to be in the wrong place at the wrong time singing the wrong line or moving in the wrong direction and if it happens (and it does) there is a teammate there willing to lend a hand.
5.) Learning lessons for life. You get out of it what you put into it. When I saw my daughter in tears after the final performance I knew this was a sign she put everything she had into this experience. She was sad it was done. Legitimately sad. A sign she gave it her all.
6.) Respect for authority. Enough said.
7.) Learning, learning, learning. My daughter loves to act. She was surrounded by some phenomenal talent. The actors she was with didn’t become great actors by accident, they worked hard. My daughter saw how they went about their craft and learned to take their cues and practice as hard and as seriously as they did.
8.) You don’t always get what you want. Would she have wanted more lines? Probably. Will she always get a part? No. A child is going to learn to take the good with the bad and, like in sport, she’s going to learn to deal with disappointment.
9.) Do your best, always and you’ll have no regrets. Everyone poured the heart into this. The smiles they received. The applause between scenes. The standing ovations after the shows. It brought me to tears. These actors provided so much for so little.
If you have the opportunity to see a community theater production my advice would be to do it.
(the photos look better when they’re larger, click on one to start a slide show)