“American Stage Education continuously aims to provide opportunities for creative, intellectual, and emotional growth through inclusive and accessible programs that are transformative for students and communities.” It’s a phrase that I’ve heard so many times that I could recite it in my sleep. This one sentence is what keeps me coming back to work with American Stage Education.
During my apprenticeship I travelled all over St. Petersburg and surrounding counties to perform Winnie the Pooh as a part of the school tour program. At first glance, travelling children’s theatre may not seem like much. It’s a group of actors piled into a van with their costumes and set, putting on a fun show for some students. But just in that hour, we give those students an opportunity to let the noise of the real world fade into the background. This respite from life is especially important now with the strain of a global pandemic weighing heavily on everyone’s minds. But, theatre for young audiences acts as more than just a getaway where they can watch some silly characters on stage.
Making theatre accessible has a profound impact on the creative and emotional growth of our youth. American Stage’s summer camps provide a robust variety of classes that foster growing minds and invite students to explore their creativity. I’ve seen some of the most timid of little humans transform into fearless rockstars by the end of the week. The lessons they learn will be taken with them everywhere they go.
Most importantly, theatre teaches us empathy. Our youth learns compassion, understanding, and how to engage with others. And if I’m being honest, I’ve learned just as much from my students as they’ve learned from me.