It may be true that school plays have been the traditional home of outspoken and outgoing students. But drama classes can help every student improve their intellectual skills, from the stage and beyond. Studies show that the theatre arts benefit all students in a wide range of academic and social areas, from test performance to stress resilience.
Consider these statistics from the American Alliance for Theatre and Education:
● Students involved in drama outscored non-arts students on the 2005 SAT by an average of 65 points in the verbal component and 34 points in the math component.
● Drama activities improve reading comprehension, and both verbal and non-verbal communication skills.
In fact, theatre arts students — especially those working in a second language, as is common at international schools — grow their experiences on the stage to incorporate life-lessons that extend well past the classroom. According to a report by Teachers of English as a Second Language (TESL), drama teaches students “responsibility, problem solving, management and directing proficiencies. These are tools that can be used in all aspects of their lives.”
To this end, forward-thinking schools are offering theatre arts programs throughout a child’s career.
Dramatic arts, though often fanciful, should be seriously understood as a crucial development tool in a student’s academic lifeThe American International School · Vienna Director Steve Razidlo
How drama can be incorporated throughout classroom work?
At AIS Vienna, drama and spoken-word performance is incorporated throughout classroom work for students as young as Pre-Kindergarten. Elementary School students are offered after-school activity programs that include a range of creative dramatics. Beginning in Grade 3, students have more formal opportunities to perform onstage, including the Elementary Play, starring dozens of young thespians, which is rehearsed in the spring and performed at the end of the school year.
In Middle School at AIS, the program expands to include two fully-realized large-ensemble productions per year. In High School, the curriculum has an intensive Drama class and three hierarchical Theatre Arts classes, each building upon the lessons and performances from the previous year.
Outside the classroom, the high-school club, the AIS Players, presents two works every year. Recent productions include the acclaimed musical “Into the Woods” and the play “Murdered by Death,” reviewed by the playwright himself Peter Gordon who said, “The overall standard of performance, costume and set was excellent. Well done to … all who were involved in the production.” High School thespians crown the Theatre Arts calendar with AIS Presents, an evening featuring original student performances.
As a tool for learning, the dramatic arts represent the ability to cross-pollinate key educational experiences like speech and performance. Theatre is a tool for communication. It becomes like a language that crosses boundaries, both cultural and educational.AIS Director Steve Razidlo