Youth theater auditions reveal importance of arts education
If you want to know how important arts education is, go to an audition for a show with youth parts at one of our local theaters. What you’ll see will astound you.
Theatre Lawrence had 100 kids audition over two days for a total of seven roles in its upcoming production of “The Sound of Music.” Keep in mind that, for the most part, there is only one part each of those 100 children can play. There may be seven children in the von Trapp family, but each is a different age. A 10-year-old girl can no more play down to be five-year-old Gretl than she can play up to be 16-going-on-17 Liesl. And she can’t be Kurt or Frederich, because they’re boys.
It was a little easier for the Lawrence Arts Center’s production of “The Kansas Nutcracker.” There are a lot of roles for children of all ages in that show. But take a look at the cast list and know that the vast majority of those people are under the age of 18.
There were 90 children in the Arts Center’s summer production of “The Wizard of Oz.” It’s other younger actors’ show, “Cinderella: Or How Pipsqueak the Mouse became a Stallion ” had 75 kids in it.
You might be thinking that doesn’t really say anything about the importance of the arts; it just means a lot kids in this area like getting up onstage and showing off. It’s true that being in a show is fun.
But auditioning isn’t; it’s nerve-wracking. You have to stand up in front of (in the case of the shows above) a hundred or more people and sing. You have to read from a script and try to prove you’re the best person for any given role. Most importantly, you have to be judged.
And you know it. You know the director is scrutinizing everything you do, and you worry about whether you did it well enough and whether someone else did it better and whether he or she looks more like the part than you did and a hundred other things that go through the mind of a person being graded on their performance.
This is a good thing.
It is a good thing, because it is training for life. Children as young as five got up in front of a stranger and risked being rejected. They took a chance someone in authority would tell them they weren’t good enough.
That takes real courage, and it is the kind of bravery that leads to success later in life. A child who is willing to gamble his or her sense of self-worth like that is willing to stand up to a bully at school. Kids like that want to explore their environment, leading to all sorts of new career choices and opportunities. Young actors grow up to be confident adults who stand up for what’s right and who can represent themselves and their businesses well.
And there’s another important lesson too. Ninety-three of those 100 kids are going to learn you don’t always get what you want. Sometimes, things just don’t work the way we want them to. We have to accept that and understand that life goes on.
This is the importance of arts education. It teaches children to explore their creativity, to be sure. But it also teaches them courage and confidence and accepting that not everyone is going to give you what you want.
There is so much more to education than learning to read, write, and count. If you need to see that in action, attend auditions for a show featuring youth roles at one of our local theaters.
You’ll be amazed and inspired.