As a high school teacher, I sat through a few inservice days in Febraury and one of those days focused on what I like to call “Life Skills.” My district calls them “Workforce Readiness Skills,” which is just a fancy term for skills every human should have, but in this day and age of technology might not. As we were going through these skills, I had to smile, because I don’t have to actively teach these, they are forced upon every theatre student no matter what.
What are these skills?
Collaboration – Conflict Management, Show mutual respect, work in diverse groups, positive communication
Interpersonal Skills/ Communication – Listening and Speaking, Social Awareness
Critical Thinking & Problem Solving – Identify problems, set goals, create possible solutions
Organization & Time Management – Organize, Prioritize, Schedule
Adaptability – Make changes based on need or environment, able to respond to unexpected circumstances
Professionalism – Courteous, Honest, Responsible, Punctual, Conscientious, Motivated
Leadership – Inspire and engage others, take ownership, create results
Work Ethic – Grit, Growth Mindset
Creativity – Innovation, Flexibility, Curiosity, Thinking outside the box
Working with analyzing these skills led me down the path of thinking about how the skills you learn while doing theatre sets you up to be ahead of others in life after high school. Look at those nine skills from above, if you can master those, you are set, people will want to work with you, hire you and promote you. Those theatre students who are successful at mastering these skills not only do well in the theatre but the rest of their professional life.
When I write letters of recommendation for students not going into theatre, I still write about their theatre work because people want to hire theatre kids.
How is that you ask?
Because they are a theatre kid. Each good theatre student has learned to improvise when a scene goes wrong or the set is broken. They should be able to make last-minute changes and run with them. As a theatre student, you learn not only how to deal with other people, but what it could be like in another person’s shoes. You know how to work with difficult people and still get the job done. With that, you should also have patience and the drive to get the job done. Theatre students should not be afraid to get their hands dirty to finish a play or stand for hours at a cue-to-cue rehearsal. Talk about mind-blowing patience, sit through one of those rehearsals and you’ll find the new definition of the word. As a theatre person, you learned how to manage people, projects and time. Theatre has deadlines and in order to meet those deadlines, you have to lead people to the finish line. Theatre teaches all and if you take the time to learn what it is teaching you, you will be set in whatever you want to do.
Still don’t believe me?
Example #1: My sister,Lillian Figg-Franzoi did theatre in her youth before going to college for International Studies. The last play she acted in was her freshman year of undergrad, still, she talks about how theatre helped in her success. Without theatre, she wouldn’t have been hired by the UN at the young age of 22 (The youngest person by ten years in her department). It isn’t her two degrees in international affairs and conflict studies that get cranky old US Generals to listen to her, it’s her years of performing and commanding an audience.
Example #2: My best friend, who works for Facebook did theatre is high school and college. She now is a PR rep for Facebook and theatre is the main reason she can talk to reporters, work on a deadline and handle the huge pressure that Facebook has caused her in the past six years. She’s lived through all the stuff Facebook has undergone and can handle it because she handled the stress of theatre productions.