From The Comfort Zones To The Spotlight: The Power of Drama – Jennifer Oaten

Drama was a subject I did as an elective when I was at school. Mr Hal Davies was an outstanding teacher; however, I only did the subject for one year. I realised that it took incredible bravery to be on stage for a performance and that, for some students, this was a comfortable place. For me, a shy 13-year-old, this was terrifying! Even as an adult, role playing is an area of discomfort for me.Yet our students involved in Jane Eyre took to the stage with such bravery, confidence and incredible talent.

Our three Jane Eyres learned an incredible amount of lines, not in dialogue but as a monologue and gave such inspiring performances. They, along with all the actors, put on a costume and were transferred to the setting of the play. Their ability to use facial expressions, the volume and tone of their voices and movement to step into their shoes (or boots, in this case) of their character is remarkable.

As a parent, you want your child to have every opportunity to grow and develop into a capable, empowered individual who believes in herself. In addition to the core subjects of Math, Science, and English, studying Drama offers many incredible benefits to our students.

Our three students who played Jane Eyre had the following to say about why they love Drama.

I love Drama so much because I can step into the shoes of a 'new' person and be someone else for a while. It gives you a more realistic perspective of other people's experiences, like Jane, who is brave but also hurt, and how she wants to find liberty, independence, love, and belonging and how she balances it.

As a Year 12 Drama student, I have learned so much about the subject and myself as a performer. Performing with the friends I have made in the subject is so much fun. Having the opportunity to work with others creatively is a life skill, a valuable life skill that I have been able to apply outside my drama class.

As a Drama student and an actor in the 2023 production, I found that my confidence and faith in myself across my studies have majorly improved as I put myself out of my comfort zone. Drama has been a huge learning curve for me, as its physical performances and written assessments have helped me to achieve a greater understanding of all aspects of my learning.

Dynamic and engaging, Drama offers many advantages for students of all ages. From learning valuable life skills to boosting self-confidence and creativity, there are plenty of reasons why all students should study Drama.

Some of the benefits of Drama include:

1. Nurtures Creativity

Drama encourages creativity and imagination, allowing students to develop their artistic side. Through the use of performance, storytelling, and role-playing, students can discover new ways of self-expression while exploring emotive and powerful themes.

The challenge of bringing a character to life in an improvised scene or script can provide a platform for students to exercise their imagination encouraging the growth of creative minds.

2. Boosts Confidence

Self-esteem is reinforced in drama class as students are encouraged to try new things in a safe and supportive environment. Performing in front of classmates and an audience can be daunting, but as students become more confident in their ability, they learn to be brave and develop self-confidence.

Successfully bringing a character to life is a fantastic feeling and a significant boost to a child’s self-esteem. This confidence carries over into other areas of their lives, helping to set them up for success. The variety of roles and technical tasks ensures that regardless of skill, there are options for all students.

Post-school, many students reflect on Drama as a subject that gave them key skills for careers such as law and roles requiring public speaking, confidence and presence.

3. Develops Teamwork and Cooperation

Drama also provides students with a sense of belonging. When they work together on a play or performance, students are part of a team, all working towards a common goal. A single play can have multiple cast members, all with distinct roles, requirements, and perspectives. As students work together on a production, they learn the value of cooperative efforts as each person brings their unique skills, strengths and talents to the table.

By working with others towards a common goal, students learn about the importance of cooperation, compromise, and communication. In a drama class environment, students learn first-hand that every role in a production is critical for the overall success of the play, from the lead actor to the stagehands.

Both teamwork, a sense of being valued and a sense of belonging also lead to positive mental health.

4. Enhances Social Skills

In addition to individual benefits, Drama can provide opportunities to learn and develop vital social skills. Drama classes provide a safe place for young people to communicate with each other and develop relationships with their peers in a creative, meaningful way.

As students rehearse a play or performance, they learn to communicate clearly and honestly, know when to listen, express their needs, and work towards finding a solution that satisfies everyone’s needs. Drama helps students learn to empathise and understand other people’s perspectives, even if they differ from their own.

5. Improves Memory and Cognitive Skills

Drama classes demand a lot of memorisation – scripts, lines, blocking – and this can serve as a fantastic cognitive workout. Students who study Drama often have excellent memory skills, which can be useful in all areas of their learning.

Studies have shown that drama education also can improve cognitive flexibility and critical thinking skills. Analysing a character’s motivations, goals, and behaviour can promote a deep understanding of a story’s key elements, which is beneficial for future academic work and critical analysis.

The benefits of studying Drama at school are numerous. It can develop crucial life skills and foster creativity and imagination while providing a place for students to learn and grow in a supportive, interactive environment. It could inspire them to achieve their full potential while providing them with the tools to succeed in all areas of their lives.

The new Cultural Space at our school will offer state-of-the-art spaces for our drama students. Our current drama students are already achieving incredible heights, and with these new facilities, we can only imagine the performances they will produce. With a new black box theatre and rehearsal spaces, our drama students will have access to the latest lighting and sound equipment, providing them with a platform to ignite their creativity and express themselves. We are excited to see the growth and achievements that will come from these cutting-edge facilities.

While I studied Drama for a short time, I was never destined for the stage; however, it has contributed to the skills I have needed as a Principal and throughout my life as a teacher. I encourage all students to try Drama.

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