Solving problems is so important in education. I used to work in a theatre where we had a class of pupils for a day and in that day, we taught them how theatre worked. We had a stage with a set built on it, lighting and recorded sound in separate control rooms, live sounds effects offstage like doorbells, wind machines and thunder sheets. During the day the pupils took turns to be actors reading from scripts, operating the recorded sound and lights, moving the scenery, creating live sounds and lighting effects and at the centre of it we chose someone to be the stage manager. They had a desk with a set of red lights for “standing by” and a set of green lights for “Go.” They were in control of the whole thing. Just as in a real theatre no one did anything until they were given the cue from the stage manager.
Often the teacher with the class would come up and quietly say, “I wouldn’t choose Johnny for that job.” And of course, we always did because we discovered that the Johnnys of this world are usually quite capable of being in charge if you give them the responsibility. The teachers were always surprised at how good they could be and “Johnny” would grow a couple of inches.
The jobs were rotated and they all had a go at the other jobs in the exercise and we always built problems into the work. The stage manager would need to see something happening in order to give the cue to move the scene on – but we set it up so they couldn’t see it. Oh, dear – what do we do?
These were the best moments; when the class had to stop and work together to find a solution. The feeling they got of achievement, of their own sense of control over what happened was probably the most important thing in the day.
The ability to solve problems is something the whole world needs. It can’t all be learnt from reading books or doing your sums. Sometimes you have to solve the problem as you go along by working with the people around you. Good theatre training involves this kind of critical thinking in the moment to make the final result.
Theatretrain has been providing kids and teenagers with exceptional lessons in acting, singing, and dancing since 1992. Our internationally award-winning weekly part time stage schools are open to all with no auditions or experience required. In addition to our physical classes (please check with your local centre) we also provide three short online classes in acting, singing, and dancing which are available to members and non-members on our YouTube channel. The opportunities at Theatretrain are endless and we would love to have you on board!