Acting Skills are Life Skills.
Youth acting classes can make a difference!
by Sarafina Vecchio
Sarafina Vecchio has been working as a performer and teaching artist in Chicago for over 20 years. She holds a Post Graduate Award in Teaching Shakespeare from The University of Warwick, in conjunction with the Royal Shakespeare Company, in Coventry, England. She also earned a Bachelor’s from Roosevelt University and studied classical acting at Richmond College in London. Sarafina teaches the Core Program as well as Young adult and child actors at ASC.
Any good youth acting class will teach with a positive approach and build upon unique talents that are inherit in every kid. Once a student gets a taste of what it’s like to be part of a creative effort and is praised for their individual donations to the effort, the sky is the limit. Theatre programs enrich kids’ lives by teaching them to stand proud, take risks, make mistakes and support others. In turn, those kids also receive support and criticism in a trusting environment. Youth acting classes are a treasure in this regard!
A life skill that we see many adults in our daily lives lacking, the ability to work in a group to create something bigger than oneself is a huge deal. At Acting Studio Chicago, our youth acting classes teach the proper and positive way to give and take, without giving up or taking too much control. To be guided by the sense that the end result as a whole is what everyone in a group should be striving for is incredibly important. It puts the focus on others rather than the self.
The ability to understand and share the feelings of others is what studying the art of drama is all about. A student who understands the importance of empathy at an early age will be almost guaranteed to carry that understanding into adulthood.
Theatre kids are usually in touch with their creative side by nature. A youth acting class takes this talent and creates a safe space in which kids can experiment with their creativity without fear of being bullied or made to feel foolish. When creativity is encouraged, the artistic possibilities are endless! The arts are not the only field in which creativity is important. In fact, I don’t think I can point to any profession where being in touch with this skill isn’t vital!
Problem Solving/Listening Skills
In any good acting class, encouraging the group to listen to each other before reacting will be a paramount goal. As actors, we need to be able to listen carefully and thoughtfully, on stage and off. Drama students who are encouraged to listen, respect, give constructive criticism and encourage every one of their peers in class are learning not only to create wonderful art, but are learning how to deal with others in society in a mature, attractive, and pretty rare way!
Just like any machine, if one part is broken or not working to its full potential, collaboration in a drama class can fall apart. By teaching accountability through exercises, scenes, and games, drama teachers have the unique advantage of teaching students the importance of their roles in a project. Students realize that if they are not pulling their weight, the story falls apart. This teaches kids that they are important and their work is necessary for the success of the team.
At ASC we create an environment that encourages bold choices and risk taking. I always start each class by having my young performers discuss what might deter them from making bold choices. Once they have voiced their concerns and fears, we write a contract for the class which sets up the rules that the class will support all choices in a positive, encouraging manner. The kids respect this contract because it helps remind them that they are in a safe place. Because they created the environment, they tend to honor the boundaries set by the group.