How Drama Classes Give Teenagers Work Experience.

All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players:

(As You Like It)

Last weekend, I watched the same rock musical for three nights running.  It was performed by a group of teenagers and children who are participating in Connections – a theatre festival/competition run by The National Theatre.  The National Theatre commissions ten new plays each year for Connections.  This year 180 theatre groups are taking part.  Each group performs locally and then performs at one of The National Theatre’s partner theatres around the country.  Eventually, ten groups are chosen to perform their play at the National Theatre in London.  Over the course of the weekend, I noticed how being in the production was similar to being in the workplace and how it could be classed as work experience for those taking part.

I constantly hear news items about how companies cannot employ teenagers because they haven’t got any experience in the workplace.  This gets me annoyed and I write articles about how great teenagers are to work with.  However, we cannot get away from the fact that teenagers need work experience.  It does not take a brain surgeon to work out that whilst school provides an education, it generally does not provide much work experience.  It cannot be expected to do everything.

One of the main differences between being at school all day and being at work is the timetable.  In school, teenagers might do Maths for 70 minutes, English for 70 minutes and P.E. for 35 minutes.  At work we might spend three full days doing the same activity over until we get it right.  Teenagers will experience this in a drama production.  I have no connections with a drama school; I am the parent of a teenage boy who attends weekly classes.  I am stating this to demonstrate that I am writing this purely as part of my mission with Loony Literature.  Over the course of the weekend, the teenagers spent eleven hours rehearsing plus four hours performing.  This was in addition to endless, weekly rehearsals.  I was astonished by the improvement in each performance I saw.  This is wonderful work experience for any teenager.

Confidence affects every decision we make.  Being a teenager can be a roller coaster of conflict as we agonise about our appearance and whether anyone finds us even a bit attractive.  For teenagers,  confidence is paramount, it affects their belief that they can pass examinations; it affects their career choice and their social standing.  No one wants to be a wall flower.   Being involved in a drama class insidiously installs confidence.  When I saw those teenagers singing and acting in such a positive and forceful manner, I knew that unless those kids weren’t 100% sure of themselves in that production, they would not have completely let go – they would have appeared reserved.  People who are not entirely comfortable in their parts can be seen to be acting; people who are entirely comfortable in their parts seem to be the truthful representation of what they are portraying.   It then occurred to me that this confidence came from being proud of their product – their product being themselves.  I cannot imagine a better tool to be equipped with when starting in the workplace.  We’ve all seen how the painfully shy teenager can appear bad mannered because he/she is too embarrassed to speak amongst older people and strangers.  Drama classes give the teenager the work experience which in turn gives them confidence to be social in a work environment.

On the first night of production, the bulb went in the changing area.  At this moment, my son and one of the girl actors had to do a quick costume change.  Unfortunately, the girl actor could not find her costume.  There was intense panic as both my son and the young lady in question scrambled around in the dark looking for the outfit.  It was nowhere to be found.  As they came out onto the stage, I remember thinking what a strange costume the actress was wearing – it looked a bit like an underskirt.  When I heard the story later, I roared with laughter.  The point is that the young woman had the confidence to go out and carry on with the show.  She also knew that this wasn’t like school where everything could be stopped whilst the costume was found; this was like work and many people were depending upon her.

Being part of a drama production teaches being a team player.  This is imperative in the work place.  Being a team player means being able to work closely with people both younger and older than yourself.  Often, when in schools, because of the vast numbers of pupils, children tend to work mostly with other children of exactly the same age.  It is often a shock to find that we are the only young person in the office when we get our first work experience.  Going to drama classes means an eleven year old will often work closely with a fourteen year old and an eighteen year old.  They get used to being with kids of different ages – it is like the workplace – age is of no consequence – the important bit is that you are a team player.

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14 Comments

Filed under Education, For Teens, Parenting

14 responses to “How Drama Classes Give Teenagers Work Experience.

  1. Pingback: 6 Great Reasons to Work with Teenagers. | loonyliterature

  2. You are so right. And I reckon that there’s a danger in schools that children are set against each, other rather than being team players, because of the competitive environment. So nice to hear of young people really pulling together.

    • Thank you for that. When I attended the first performance, I had my friend’s daughter who is thirteen with me. I knew that she wasn’t that keen on drama so I asked if it was because she was frightened of appearing silly or if it was what people would say to her. She said that it was because people started laughing and then said nasty things later. This is in school. When I said that they were winning then and stopping her from doing something, she looked down and whispered “well, I don’t want to do it anyway,” I didn’t believe her as she had to look away when she said it. I thought it was such a shame as she is a lovely girl and would truly benefit from drama classes but bullying is preventing it.

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  3. Your experience reminds me of a programme I watched some time ago, where they said that kids lacking social skills improved vastly after they’d been to drama classes. It gave them not only the confidence to deal with other people using words rather than fists, but also taught them self-worth and self-respect. Great post, thanks very much for a post that doesn’t demonise young people but reminds us how truly difficult it is to find one’s feet when starting out in life.

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  8. How right you are. Now that you’ve expounded the matter, I really do think teens can gain work experience from drama classes. I don’t know if companies would now consider it so though. But you have a very good point here. Perhaps companies should take this into consideration.

    • Thank you for your comment. Actually, the more I see of teenager’s going to drama classes and performing in front of the public, the more I am convinced that this is valuable work experience. I wish that the powers that are would understand this.

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