The Acting Space Dubai: the benefits of theatre for the young
John Pugh, the director of The Acting Space at Kings’ School Al Barsha discusses the benefits young people can gain from the theatre.
There are people of all ages but particularly the young, for whom acting is a singularly exciting prospect and preoccupation. Perhaps it is the process of revealing oneself emotionally that excites the young actor, or of stepping into the shoes of a character and losing oneself for a while to ‘become’ another person. The ‘dovetailing’ of three threads (emotional, intellectual and technical) make acting satisfying, fulfilling and irresistible and then there is talent, which when thrown into the mix, never fails to surprise and enthrall. Beyond the obvious lure and tenuous promise of a career in acting, there exists a deeply rooted, solid set of benefits, which emerge from drama exploration!
Collaboration, creativity, confidence and communication are all qualities and skills that The Acting Space, Dubai seeks to nurture in its cohort. In an age where educators are under pressure to measure every aspect of teaching and ‘progress’, where we need to tick boxes and ‘prove’ learning as if it is a technology, The Acting Space will trust in its approaches to ‘long learning’ and will value less ‘measurable’ outcomes.
Viewing the world through the eyes of great dramatists from Sophocles to Miller and Albee, is a way of examining the human condition and the wonderful (if often flawed) world that we share. The process too of empathising through intense character development and improvisation, equips learners for later life, relationships and the workplace.
The wonderful and gifted Cate Blanchett has said that she has never chosen a project for the part-but for the project itself. This attitude, collaborative, inquiring and free of egocentricity, will be valued and promoted by The Acting Space. Students who walk through the doors will be much like journalists on a mission to investigate, examine and understand characters, situations and behaviours. Their tools will go beyond the use of a notebook and camera though; their voices, their sense of their own physical actions and their emotional intelligence will be features of every workshop and class.
The Acting Space will offer courses for actors from teenage years to adults and a foundation course for actors in Years 5 and 6 and an emphasis on attitude and resilience will be notable. Courses will run within the facilities of Kings’ School Al Barsha; small group sizes and an appreciation of the diversity of students’ abilities will be a feature of the school.
A drama school in Dubai, which places importance on each individual actor, will enhance the excellent work going on in schools across the city and provide aspiring dramatists with a forum in which to take risks and surprise themselves!
In terms of school based drama education, these are interesting times (particularly in British curriculum schools). Drama and Theatre courses, which are examined at GCSE and A Level, have taken on a supposedly ‘academic’ character with the assessment emphasis shifting further towards written examinations.
Drama specialists, drama students and their parents have never doubted the academic value of drama and theatre exploration in practical forms and performance based activities. To see young people communicating the works of great playwrights successfully, excitingly and intelligently is absolute evidence of ‘academic’ success and intellectual understanding. The powers that be in British educational policy making might feel more secure in less subjective opportunities to straightforwardly ‘mark’ progress in Drama from an exam paper but drama teaching colleagues would be inclined, in most cases, to keep the drama on the stage.
Perhaps for those students at GCSE and A Level who will be inevitably spending more of their taught sessions being ‘prepared’ for such written examinations (often 40% assessment weighting), the opportunity to embrace more practical performance, acting and directing experience would be welcome. After all there is certainly tremendous value in cultivating our writing skills and literacy through experiential performance work and excellent practical experience always aids strong written reflection because passion, opinion and evaluation are born out of challenging performance work.
The learners who flourish through drama education, those who love to ‘flesh out’ social issues and chew over human psychology and behaviour know that the study of theatre is everything, politics, history, sociology, psychology, language, art, literature, philosophy and people. For such learners, a couple of hours of drama is never enough, they know its value and they want more!
About The Acting Space
The Acting Space, Dubai is a place of innovative, creative learning, where people collaborate with the common aim of devising ground-breaking theatre. The school will offer challenging and exciting opportunities in Drama Education, Acting Classes and Ensemble Theatre Making, for committed actors at Kings’ School Al Barsha.
The Acting Space, Dubai
Drama at Kings’ School Al Barsha
For more information visit The Acting Space.