For many adults, sending their children to a youth theatre is a way to get a bit of peace and quiet for a few hours a week.
However, to a child, youth theatre can be a life-changing experience. It can open up a world of possibilities. It’s a place where the big kid and the little kid can see eye-to-eye. Where the nervous learn to conquer their fears and the fearless can channel their confidence. They learn respect and humility and a handful of other life skills. Young adults learn to communicate with their peers, explore social boundaries, open their imaginations. It’s there as a sanctuary from the often grim realities of 21st century living.
It is in the rehearsal rooms up and down the country where children and young adults are taught to dream big and follow their hearts.
The reason your children starts going to youth theatre may be because they are interested in drama, but the reason that they will continue going week after week is that it may become their refuge.
How to choose?
So your child has decided that youth theatre might be right for them. How do you go about finding the right youth theatre drama lessons for your kids? Well the key is to let them decide it is right. For geographical or financial reasons, their choice may be limited, but even then – it has to be their decision. If the theatre has a website, take a look at it together and see how they feel about it. If their response it positive, then give the youth theatre a call and as if their child could attend a trial session.
Also, take time to a do a bit of ‘adult’ research. Ask around to see if other parent’s kids are attending, do a bit of online searching and speak to the youth theatre coordinators. Youth theatre leaders tend to come from a mix of backgrounds from teachers and professional actors to former youth theatre members who want to give something back. Generally they are well trained and will be able to put your mind at ease about the experience your child will have. While it has to be your child’s decision, you need to be comfortable with it too.
Some youth theatres are massively over-subscribed and many have a waiting list of weeks or months. Even then, most youth theatres will still let a child come for a one-off evening, in order to see if it is right for them.
When it comes time for their trial, try to remember that this is their thing. Give them that bit of extra space rather than walking them right up to the door!
What if it doesn’t go well?
If your child lacks confidence, there is every chance that a one-off session may be overwhelming for them and they might not enjoy it. If that is the case, do what you can to encourage them to give it another try. Often it will take a couple of weeks for a child to find where they slot in to the group dynamic – but don’t worry – they will! Perhaps suggest that they give it a certain number of weeks and if they are still not enjoying themselves by then, they can stop.
Fingers crossed, you won’t have to go down that road. Most children who show an interest in dramatics take to youth theatre like a duck to water.
Jace Quick has spent most of his time in learning the art of dancing and drama; Dancing he thinks is an art of expressing ones emotion, feelings, anxiety and love. He is a teacher by profession and has started writing on the experience of teaching others the art of expression. The latest of his writings is drama lessons.