Participating in theater is about so much more than playing dress-up. There are significant cognitive, physical, emotional and social benefits to participating in live theater. Many of these benefits are just what our visual-spatial kids need, but are also a safe, fun way for our more auditory-sequential kids to develop their “other” side.
Theater is three-dimensional. It requires reading and understanding a story, spatially. Spatial kids don’t always enjoy reading and memorization in the classroom, but when they’re learning their lines in a play, they’re motivated to learn and remember in a way that innately suits them. Thinking spatially in theater means that an actor needs to have an awareness of the stage at all times, know where the other actors are and where they need to move next. This unique awareness of space and time is perfectly suited to being spatial.
Visual kids are relational. They’re good with people and skilled at reading others. Theater offers tremendous opportunities to study characters, think through motivation, make choices about how to convey emotion and tell stories using faces and bodies.
Theater satisfies unique social needs. There is a unity of purpose in theater — a non-competitive, mutual goal. Each person is important to the ensemble and the better each individual is, the better the whole. There are few opportunities for this experience, yet it has profound ramifications. This brings the potential to develop remarkable friendships. There’s playfulness, honesty, and communal adventure in live theater. Real friendships, not based on fashion, cliques or popularity, have the opportunity to grow. While performing, there’s a task at hand that brings with it a shared experience and potential for group success that leads to a unity of purpose.
Theater can also help develop organizational skills, self-control and communication skills, can improve awareness of one’s physical body in relation to others, and lead to increased self-esteem. Developing these qualities through theater aligns with the way our right-brain, visual-spatials think, but is also an excellent way to open up new ways of thinking in our left-brain, auditory-sequentials.