Sarah Brill, Science and Technology Editor
The most overlooked, unappreciated, and underfunded program in high schools and colleges is theatre. Theatre, one of the most heartwarming, transformative, and artistic experiences a person can have whether on stage or off stage.
I started acting at the age of five in my synagogue youth theatre production of “Hanukkah: The Festival of Lights.” I believe I played the most important role of my theatrical career in that show, starring as a candle. In some ways, it was the most important role in my life because it made me realize that theatre was probably the best thing to grace the planet. Since my candle debut, I have performed on mainstage, black box stages, and performing arts stages, but the one thing I have taken away from all of those experiences is that without them, I would not be the person I am today. Now you may be thinking: isn’t that true for all experiences? All experiences shape us, right? I would say yes and no.
Theatre in particular serves as an outlet for myself and for many others. It harbors an atmosphere of inclusivity that might or might not be found elsewhere. Some may look to the theatre as an escape. An escape from life at home or from a school that thinks you are too quirky or weird. For the audience, that quirky-weirdness translates into an exceptional character. For actors, those two hours of performance feels like five minutes of pure bliss where we don’t get to be ourselves, instead we get to portray magical dwarfs or townsfolk living in the 1960s. For two hours, everyone is at ease with themselves and their life because, and I hate to sound cliche, the theatre is a truly magical place.
In my last mainstage production, closing out my senior year of high school, the atmosphere in the theatre academy which I attended was tense. Our theatre was run on donations and community support, but with all the funds going towards other, “more important,” activities it seemed like it would be the end of my theatre, regardless of if I was graduating or not. The high school theatre programs and theatre companies in my city, and in many other cities across the U.S., were, and still are, facing an economic drought. Money is distributed elsewhere leaving the theatre and many other artistic programs, including studio art and video production, in a hole. What many people do not understand or fail to realize is that these types of programs serve as lifesavers for many of the students who perform there. College and especially high school social life has been built upon a hierarchy of jocks, nerds, and dorks, and the theatre serves as the only place where all of those people, no matter what status they fall under, can come together and create or experience a piece of art. So when I say the theatre is truly the most magical place in the minds of many, I truly mean it. My only hope is that one day other people can see that art, in any form, is worth just as much as an investment as any other program.