• Patrick McAndrew

Theatre: Part of This Complete Breakfast!

I decided to double dip today with regards to what I’m writing about.  Yes, lo’ and behold, I will be referring to two different articles that I hope will pique your interest.  The first has to do with el teatro.

In an article published by Brian H. Hough and Sigmund Hough, it turns out that theatre training has a strong, positive correlation with cognitive brain function.  The article, titled The Play Was Always the Thing: Drama’s Effect on Brain Function, goes into depth with regards to how participating in theatre can help improve essential brain activities such as personal growth and learning capabilities.  They argue that theatre may be the best activity for brain health and that theatre could “minimize or reduce the risk of brain related diseases since the brain is remaining active and fit.”

The article mainly focuses on the learning and cognitive benefits that could be gained from theatre by school students and senior citizens.  The article concludes, “By using the full capacity of the brain, the brain becomes active in more areas and therefore takes longer to decay since more parts of the brain are active.”

Sounds to me like theatre is pretty amazing exercise for the brain, no matter what age you are.  I believe participating in theatre, whether it be a play or a workshop, is akin to working out in the gym.  Anne Bogart calls theatre a “gym for the soul” and I can’t agree more.  Theatre activates the brain in a way that most learning does not and engages our bodies to learn and exercise in collaboration with our brains.

What are your thoughts? Do you think— “WOAH!  Hold on there, partner!  Didn’t you say that you were going to write about two articles?!”  Golly gee…it must be my ATTENTION SPAN! MY COGNITIVE CAPACITY MUST BE LACKING! DUN DUN DUN!!!!

The second article I stumbled upon is titled Brain Drain: The Mere Presence of One’s Own Smartphone Reduces Available Cognitive Capacity.

This is most peculiar indeed.  While theatre practices are helping to grow and nourish cognitive abilities, the smartphone is reducing said abilities.  The article discusses how smartphones can have a dramatic impact on our cognitive abilities even we are not using our devices.  This is because our attention, even while not onour phone, can be easily diverted to our phone.  Our subconscious minds are on guard, waiting for a notification, a message, a BING!!  This article is very insightful, although kind of a sleepy read to get through.  It concludes by saying that, although these devices give us endless access to information, entertainment, and social stimulation, it may be coming at a cognitive cost.

With all this said, I do believe that theatre is more important now than ever before.  Would you agree?  Most would not, as audiences do not often contain a lot of young people, unless those young people are involved in theatre.  But if we switch the narrative around and reveal how much is truly gained from a theatrical experience, whether it be acting in a show or attending a workshop, the benefits are striking.  We must pull ourselves out of our online lives from time to time to experience humanity.

Let me know your thoughts below!


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