This past week I found out that the school I am leaving is not going to renew the theater arts program after I am gone. Which means that middle school kids will not have exposure to theater unless they audition for the after school play.
When I thought about this I realized that there will be a great number of kids who will be very, very sad and there will be a smaller number who will rejoice at not being forced to sit in such a boring class. Then I chuckled to myself. On the one hand no one will be able to say to the new theater teacher “We like you so much better than Mr. Redman”, but on the flip side hundreds of thousands of kids over the coming years won’t be exposed to one of the earliest known art forms that is crucial and vital to our culture.
This is it. Once Theater Arts is gone as a class, the chances of it coming back are slim to none. Have you ever heard of a district ADDING more arts? Uh, no. What I don’t get is why cut theater arts? Why do we have 4 music teachers (Band, Choir, 1/4 band, and orchestra) and ONE Theater Arts teacher and it is theater arts that is cut. You can justify it all you want, but the fact remains that theater is just as important as all the music classes. Math I understand, Science I understand, but music is just another performing art. I would hazard to guess that the same percentage of kids in a music program go on to be “musicians” later in life as theater kids go on to become “actors” (or even work at a community theater for cripes sake). And a huge difference is that in theater – A goal is to teach kids to become artists. To create new works. Music just sings established works and works on singing them well.
Not to mention the fact that I can put on a play with kids using almost no scenery and costumes, but the band (orchestra) CAN NOT play without their freaking instruments – and those things are expensive and they cost the district a lot of money.
Maybe that is the problem – that the program does not make an impression because it doesn’t impact the budget in a major way. Maybe if we would put on plays, rehearsing in the classroom environment during the school day and putting on the show at the end – akin to a music concert. Ah well, what are you going to do.
Theater is still a misunderstood fine arts program.