5 reasons why performing arts plays a key role in society
The artistic voice asks those who listen to think, to question, to reflect on what it is to be human. It is therefore dangerous, seditious, a threat to the establishment. In other words, it is power.
Because of that, studying the performing arts and working in the industry is an incredibly important thing for society as well as for the individual. People may tell you that the performing arts are no longer at the centre of our fast-moving digital world, but when we take ourselves away from our computer screens, what will elevate us? What will make us feel part of a communal experience? What will provide us with a deeper understanding of what it means to be human? What will make us laugh and cry? Forget our worries, lose ourselves? The creative industries are growing at three times the national economy, therefore playing a key role in society, but what exactly does the performing arts grant to those that choose to pursue it?
Through training in dance, acting and singing you will equip yourself with the means to express your ideas, your feelings, your opinions. Through this facility for self-expression, you will be able to then go on to express wider social issues through the context of performance. Your developed ability to make your inner life manifest through creative expression is a liberation from the constraints of every – day life, where we are often expected to remain in silent conformity, lest we offend.
“The arts enable us to put ourselves in the minds, eyes, ears and hearts of other human beings.” – Richard Eyre. If we can do this then not only will we be more convincing performers, capable of telling a multitude of stories from another person’s point of view, but as human beings we can find compassion for each other. The ability to empathise, which is central to the training of a performer, can move us further towards a society that is more tolerant, peaceful and harmonious.
Understanding the body
Understanding how our bodies work is key to the training. As performers, we need to know what keeps our bodies strong and injury-free. We need to build up stamina, flexibility, physical freedom of expression. We need to know what to eat to keep us healthy and fit. A body that is weak, and unexpressive cannot serve us as performers. If we are knowledgeable and at ease with our physical selves, we can also have a positive impact on society. We can lead by example in a world littered with the casualties of eating disorders and poor body image.
The performing arts gives you a platform from which to be creative. Your imaginations can soar. Through creativity you can present the world from a different angle, you can transport audiences to magical places, you can move someone to look deeper into themselves. You can make the mundane extraordinary. Throughout time human beings have created. It is incredibly moving to think of primitive man painting scenes on cave walls, the need to express and record life has been there since the dawn of time, and performers simply carry on this simple legacy. A society becomes unhealthy without the means to create and the effects of creativity.
Above all, theatre is a place where we can communicate. We can offer ideas from different cultures, viewpoints, political leanings and personal experiences to audiences. A performer is in essence a communicator. As you train you will become aware that not only are you empowered to communicate effectively theatrically, but in your day to day dealings you will find yourself more at ease articulating needs and thoughts, and receiving those from others even when they contradict your own, Performance, at its best, transcends language, and connects cultures. It communicates other possibilities of seeing the world. As a society, if we can communicate with each other, then we stand a chance of understanding each other. As John Steinbeck said: “Try to understand men. If you understand each other you will be kind to each other. Knowing a man well never leads to hate and almost always leads to love.”
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