The Benefits of Youth Theatre
Simon Denver (pictured below), the writer of Man of Steel, shares his thoughts on youth theatre.
Years ago, I read the results of an international survey on fear. The greatest fear facing an individual was not Thermo-Global Nuclear War. Neither was it cancer, terminal illness or extinction-level events such as asteroids, volcanoes, tsunamis or climate change. The eventual winner left them all in its wake. Divorce, losing your job and the aforementioned fears were all in the shadow of the undisputed number one. The Fear of Public Speaking. No wonder the rest of society looks upon performers in a strange way. It's not that we don't have this fear - it's because we have learned to rise above it. And how? Here is a recap of what belonging to a youth theatre, or being in a school musical or play, should teach you.
All theatre is a huge trust exercise. And just as you are trusting everyone will get their bits right, they trust that you will get your bit right. When working to a deadline you don't have time to develop your "relationship" with everyone; certain shortcuts must be taken. You have to learn to trust your co-workers from the get-go. You forge an effective working relationship with people, whether you like them or not. You must learn to trust early and completely.
The more disciplined and rehearsed any theatre team or ensemble is, the better the result. Getting something right is never easy. If it was easy then everyone would always get everything right. It sounds strange but the more disciplined the rehearsals, the more the team has fun and finds solidarity. It's never a case of learning your place in the team, it's about realising that the team actually needs you and it isn't quite the same without you, and vice versa.
The friendships you make in youth theatre stay with you for life. Why? Because you share that special time that "outsiders" just don’t understand. You were part of a highly emotionally charged project which had what seemed like an impossible journey over a frighteningly short time frame.
You soon learn to take a pride in your work. No matter whether you are chorus, lead or backstage you should take pride in your work and strive to constantly be better. A chain is only as good as its weakest link. Your pride in yourself and your project should make sure that this is not you.
Any show is a monumental achievement in its own right. This achievement gives you confidence in yourself. I recently went to a youth theatre reunion. Dozens turned up. One of the common topics discussed over a few refreshing ales was confidence. Many claimed youth theatre had given them skill sets, led by confidence, to guarantee they'd never fail a job interview.
A great skill set to hone. The more theatre you do, especially improvisation, the more you learn to think laterally. Theatre tends to present us with almost inconceivable problems that need us to come up with some incredible solutions. It teaches us how to explore a situation from more than one viewpoint. In short - it keeps you on your toes.
Simon Denver is represented by Maverick Musicals. This year the company, founded by Simon’s family, was proudly taken over by new owners Rachel Fentiman and Howard Tamplin.
Between them they have over 50 years of theatrical experience.
“We believe we have the best job in the industry: helping you, your school or theatre group discover the best play for your needs,” they told Stage Whispers.
“It’s our privilege to guide teachers, directors, producers and everyone in-between, all over the globe, to find that perfect play. We will help you narrow down plays that have the right cast size, theme, genre and whatever else you’re looking for to make your play a roaring success.”