• Patrick McAndrew

Theatre Is Paving The Way For The Future

Anyone who has read my past articles knows that I am a huge advocate when it comes to theatre. As an actor in New York City, I have the privilege to work on various creative projects that tell stories and captivate audiences.

Theatre has always been a staple of culture, going all the way back to the ancient Greeks. But today, theatre attendance is low. It’s very rare that someone will go see a show if it’s not on Broadway or if they don’t know someone in the show. Theatre is very difficult to sustain, as it requires a lot of an audience. When we see a play, we have to turn off our phones, usually sit silently, and watch a story play out for up to three hours. This requires a lot of attention!

In an age where our attention span is shorter than a goldfish’s, it’s easy to dismiss theatre as secondary with the times. Emphasis is placed on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. While these subjects are incredibly important in the progression of our world, it is a serious mistake pushing theatre and other performing arts to the wayside.

Those who have been involved in theatre in some form, or for those who are close to someone involved in theatre, know the skills developed. Skillsets in how to communicate, how to listen, how to be self-aware, and how to be present are all developed in the theatrical arts. Not only this, but we study and analyze the complexities of human relationships and then portray this onstage. Performers especially need to own the stage and know how to reel in an audience. Essentially, theatre teaches us how to connect and interact with people.

Building relationships and interacting with people are skillsets that are becoming increasingly more valuable as time goes on and technology progresses. Why, you may ask? Because those cultivating their interpersonal, social skills will be highly valuable in an age that is run by technology. While there will still be plenty of jobs to create such new and innovative technology, the roots will be in human relationships and how to create technology that serves us rather than us serving it.

This philosophy has exploded within the last year or so. News stories seem to come out everyday about how screens are affecting our children, how excessive tech use is causing loneliness, and how we need to be more mindful in our exposure to technology. While highly analytical and technological jobs aren’t going away any time soon, it’s the people who develop their social skills who will have the advantage.

But outside of a job standpoint, theatre education allows for community. There is a reason there are thousands of community theatres present around the world. Theatre is so amazing that, not only is it a profession, but people willingly devote their free time to perform because of the exhilaration, freedom, and sense of community that it brings. Not only this, but the skills acquired are easily transferable to other industries, whether it be in business, medicine, or hospitality.

We need businessmen and businesswomen for our economy. We need doctors and nurses for the medical field. We need construction workers and architects for infrastructure. We need all of these people, no doubt. We are teaching these industries how to use the latest and greatest technologies, which is important. Technology is allowing us to make incredible new discoveries and is also making our jobs much more efficient. But we mustn’t neglect the power of human touch. We mustn’t succumb entirely to technology’s seduction. We must exercise our people skills regularly because this is the path to happiness and fulfillment.

Theatre education is a solution and is part of this path. Whether we attend a show, take a class, or perform regularly, it’s safe to say that, most of the time, something will be gained. This sort of education should be mandatory, not only in schools, but as a means of professional development in the workplace. If we implement the teachings of theatre into the social fabric of the world, we will feel less isolated, better connected, and a part of something bigger; a part of a community.

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