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Why it’s so important to take your child to the theatre

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It’s hardly news that the UK is currently experiencing a STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) shortage – according to EngineeringUK, the country needs 1.8 million new engineers and technicians by 2025 – and in order to tackle this deficit, we need to encourage young children to take up science and maths subjects.

 

Theatre not only entertains and enchants the audience, it fires the imagination, giving children the skills, curiosity and creativity they need to understand the complex world we live in.

“Musicals are the first love of almost everyone you’ll speak to who works in theatre – on, off or behind the stage,” says Ceri Lothian, associate producer at Deus Ex Machina Productions.

“There’s something magical about the way song weaves into every part of a live show which sparks something in children that you’ll find incredibly hard to extinguish. They’ll wonder: ‘How can I create that magic?’, and that’s how you create the next generation of designers, musical directors, performers, producers and stage managers.”

And School of Rock, an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, aims to do just that – to inspire the next generation. Whether that’s learning a new instrument or performing as part of the chorus in the local pantomime, School of Rock – that faithfully reflects the hit film that inspired it – will be sure to have you, and your child, leaping to your feet.

Arts marketer Natasha Brown says that theatre is a really entertaining way to understand yourself and those around you, “which is why we should make sure children see lots of it from an early age. By exposing them to stories, from all types of people, we can start to build up their sense of empathy and inclusivity – qualities that are much needed in today’s climate.”

She continues: “Commercial theatre, such as the plays and musicals you see in the West End, is great because of how accessible the stories being told are. It’s light entertainment that is easy to understand and grabs a child’s attention.

“By exposing children to the West End, we’re giving them a gateway to theatre in general. When they get a bit older, they may visit an off-West-End venue for a thought-provoking experience, or somewhere on the fringe to see something completely bizarre and wonderful. Everything has its place in the theatre ecology.”

“Since 2010, the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation has awarded almost £14 million to projects on arts education and participation”

Through theatre we are transported into the minds of the characters on stage; we’re taught how to understand and recognise their emotions – which, of course, encourages communication and empathy.

Theatre, like all art, can be used as a form of escapism or reflection, where you’re forced to acknowledge the similarities of your own life being played out right in front of your very eyes. One thing is certain: the arts know no bounds, and theatre is for everyone.

One institution that is particularly involved in highlighting the importance of theatre, and showing it both demands and displays skills such as teamwork and confidence, is the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation.

 Since 2010, it has awarded almost £14 million to projects on arts education and participation, enhancing access and increasing diversity. In an industry that is trying to change its perception, by reaching out and fixing issues of gender, race and equality, that is invaluable.

Children are incredibly impressionable. If we get more children watching, enjoying and performing theatre, arguably they are more likely to become adults equipped with skills to understand the world we live in and perhaps change it for the better – to bring stories and people, from all walks of life, together.

Article taken from ‘The Telegraph’

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