As a creative arts educator, I aim to support the growth of imagination and creativity in our youth by fostering a learning environment where it can blossom. My goal is to inspire students by teaching theatre through the use of creative drama which encourages students to engage their imaginations. The use of creativity and imagination makes drama a fun way to motivate students to learn while generating developmental synapses that simultaneously occur during creative play.
I believe that fostering creativity is the essential ingredient to the foundation of learning. Much of my teaching philosophy is based on the lectures given by New York Times best selling author, Sir Ken Robinson, an internationally recognized leader in the development of creativity. In 2003 he received a Knighthood from Queen Elizabeth the II for his services to the arts and education. I agree with many of his sentiments when he speaks of how the value of the creative arts is greatly underestimated in many of our public school systems. If we are supposed to be preparing our youth for their future roles in society, I can not think of one profession where creativity does not play an essential part; considering professional careers such as: business management, architecture, advertising, marketing, public relations, science, engineering, and teaching. Creativity cultivates problem solving techniques used in all of these occupations; it is an essential part of innovation and invention.
The most influential benefit of educational theatre is its unique ability to cultivate student’s personality growth while promoting self confidence. When students step into a role and learn to think as their character would think, they learn how to be empathetic. For example, a student learns these important skills about empathy and relating to other people, not only through recreating character relations in scene work, but through the theatrical collaboration process as well. For a student to be successful at his craft he must be socially aware and in tune with his own emotions, because acting is based on reenacting human impulses and behavior. Through this increased social awareness students can gain perspective of interactions between people and the impact that their actions have upon others. Theatre also has the potential to develop other important skills in its students such as: language, motor skills, memorization, and communication abilities through the study of playwriting and re-enacting the text. Students learn body control, coordination and discipline by learning how to express themselves using voice, hands, face and body.
From the standpoint of teaching core academics, I aim to use drama to teach the art of theatre while expanding the learning in my students other areas of study. The method I use to achieve this is to require my students to research all aspects of the piece and its author when preparing to perform scene work. Students will study the biography of the playwright to determine the message that the author is trying to convey. They need to study the time period in which the play takes place; historical events that may effect a character’s actions; geographical and cultural influences on the characters; and any other significant symbolic references. The objective being that by reenacting pieces from a different time, place or culture, students will better understand the importance of the lessons on these subjects. For example if students are studying American History, it might help them to better understand the signing of the Declaration of Independence if they got to act out a scene between John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson from the musical: 1776. In essence, they will feel as though they have “lived” through the experience putting themselves in the shoes of these historic figures.
Beyond understanding the core academic and developmental benefits of theatre and the creative arts, one of my greatest strengths as a theatre arts educator is the fact that I have an extensive background as a working professional, fully integrated into the theatrical industry. While teaching is my passion, I am also a Screen Actor’s Guild (SAG) eligible actress and Off-Off Broadway Producer. It is evident in my teaching style that I hold a high level of respect for the craft, and I demand that my students are ambitious with their work. I’m passionate about creating an engaging learning environment that teaches theatre appreciation and the fundamentals of various acting techniques.