High school can be a bleak time. Theatre made it better for me. In fact, I made some of my best teenage memories working with other actors and my director to put on shows.
I’m no longer an actor, but the feel of being on stage still beckons every now and then. Maybe one day I’ll re-engage with this skillset. But in the meantime, I continue to benefit from my time in theatre. Here are five great things I gained:
1. I forged camaraderie.
I didn’t play team sports in school. In one sense, this was a good thing. I had much more time to read and pursue other interests. But I missed out big on several important things, including camaraderie.
You get camaraderie when you are working toward a mission with someone else. I got that camaraderie from theatre. My fellow actors were hilarious, talented, and wickedly smart. In working alongside them, I felt a powerful sense of belonging that made the loneliness of high school a bit more tolerable.
2. I learned how to take negative feedback.
I kept a thin skin well into my teenage years, partly because I did not subject myself to the rigor of a sports team. But preparing for plays brought me into direct contact with frequent negative and constructive feedback. I had to stomach some harsh feedback and work through the tears and frustration of breaking some bad habits and insufficiencies.
3. I learned how to take a bow.
I tend to underestimate the value of my work to others. The same was true about my acting – I didn’t think all that much of it (and I still don’t). But when shows were over, people would shower me with praise. I realized that I had some of what it took to impress people in a skill I never expected to have.
4. I learned how to play (again).
I was a serious kid. Acting probably helped to validate my playfulness and imagination in my teenage years. People knew that I was the actor type, and so I got a way with more over-the-top humor, impersonations, accents, etc. I still do.
5. I learned how to appreciate art more.
I’ve written before about how acting on stage has made me appreciate the skill of actors so much more. I know a bit of what goes into the work of acting and production and direction. It’s mind-boggling, and so it’s much more impressive when a bit of theatre or cinema goes off without a hitch.