Drama: Defunct or desirable?

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From cavemen grunting around a fire to “Who Killed Lucy Beale?”, drama has always been a part of human culture. However, should it be a core subject on a school’s curriculum? Why do we need to know about a thrust stage? What use will the Verfremdungseffekt have in everyday life?

Unless you are destined to become the next Benedict Cumberbatch, you may not see much point in devoting hours on end to pretending to be someone else. Yet, with a bit of thought, the benefits of drama are numerous and transferable. In this reporter’s opinion, the scrapping of drama from the curriculum would be as outrageous as mispronouncing “Konstantin Sergeievich Stanislavski”!

Possibly the most obvious advantage to spending hours on end in a darkened theatre is that it boosts confidence. Young people studying drama are constantly building their confidence by performing in front of an audience, something which many adults would hate the idea of. Not only will they be more confident, but the study of drama will improve a person’s speaking technique. Projecting your voice may seem a key, even obvious, point to remember when addressing a congregation, and yet it is one that many people overlook. How many people have endured a speaker that they just cannot hear?

Some may argue that drama introduces the concept of competition, and the resulting failure, to children, and that this is to be avoided. Be that as it may, surely learning to cope with rejection is an excellent life lesson, and one that should be taught as early as possible? Parents constantly tell their young children, “you don’t always get your own way”, and drama teaches the same principle which could, some may argue, lead to a more selfless personality.

Another asset that drama teaches is the creative element, not only as an individual but also as a group. In this way, social skills are also enhanced as well as team-leadership. Whether creating the next Hamlet, or just devising a five-minute comedy sketch, communicating your ideas is an integral part of drama and one which is nurtured in any creative exercise. This is a skill that can be transferred to many other aspects of life: for example, an accountant needs to communicate to their client how they are going to manage their accounts, and a scientist needs to be able to dictate their ideas and conclusions to the public. The creative aspect of drama also helps people to think of alternative or interesting ways of doing things. The freedom of just doing what you want with a piece is a form of stress relief; during exam periods, students probably welcome the respite from the in-pouring of information that the sciences require.

In a world full of increasing diversity, drama is also a very different subject to all the conventional sciences or humanities in that there is no right answer. Unlike in maths, where the sum equals the answer, drama provides students scope to explore the ways in which a text could be presented, and the text equals many different possibilities. Since all students would have contributed in some form to the piece, everyone respects each other’s creations. This creates a very friendly environment within the classroom. Also, drama involves analysing other people’s performances. The result of this is that students have to consider everything. Why has that person decided to tremble when this person says this? What is the point of having three people on that side of the stage and only one on this side? Not only do students learn to be more observant, but they also learn how to give and receive constructive criticism – a skill which is vital in life.

So, removing drama from the curriculum would remove the opportunity for young people to express themselves whilst also learning key life skills that can be used in almost any situation in the future. Therefore, drama should stay, as it prepares students for life, which is even referred to as a “stage” by one of the most famous playwrights of all time. In the words of Victor Hugo, “Life is a theatre set in which there are but a few practicable entrances”, and I strongly believe that drama, the art of pretend, is one such entrance.