The Theatre Arts CSEC themed by us at Mustardseed ‘THEATRE FOR LIFE’ took place over the course of approximately 9-months. The course was designed to expose students to principal element s of drama and Theatre Arts as well as to foster students’ appreciation of the study of Theatre Arts as a critical function in their personal development.
According to the Theatre Arts CSEC Syllabus, “Theatre Arts provides an important means of understanding, constructing, appreciating, and communicating social and cultural values… (it) also encourages team-building and problem solving strategies that have become important requirements in the contemporary work environment… the Theatre Arts Syllabus has been designed to provide experiences that enable students to appreciate, create and communicate theatrical events with their minds as well as their senses, emotions and their bodies, thereby fostering self- confidence, self-discipline and self-motivation. “Students who complete a course in Theatre Arts will find that it has contributed significantly to their personal development. It will also make them aware of the close relationships of theatre to such areas as the humanities, literature, composition, and oral communication. Theatre Arts, therefore, enlivens the imagination, challenges the creative intellect and at the same time equips students with attitudes and skills needed for social life and the world of work”.
This rationale encapsulates the socio-developmental significance of the study of Theatre Arts. It is our objective here at Mustardseed that the students leave the CSEC course in Theatre Arts feeling like inspired and empowered – like an upgraded version of themselves if you will.
Above anything else, above the rejected null hypothesis, the significant difference between pre-test and post-test, the perfect scores, the grade 1s with all A profiles, the standing ovations, above all of that, we wanted them to come to love Theatre Arts and respect it. We also wanted them to see and feel proud of their own personal growth.
At the onset of this course, I asked all the students to compose an entry in their journals about ‘what they expect from the course’. The intention was for them to anticipate outcomes and project goals. I also wanted students to begin to articulate their thoughts in journal format – one of the course requirements. Finally, I wanted them to compare their expectations with their gains by the end of the course.
At the last class before the final written exam, I asked students to make an entry about ‘what they think they gained from the course’. I have to admit that I was not prepared for the level and quality of their responses. Thoughtful, insightful and enlightened is how I would describe their entries.
Some of the comments I noted were as follows:
- “This course has totally exceeded my expectations… I learnt about my heritage and how POWERFUL theatre is as an art and how much I love it” Whitney Williams;
- “I’ve experienced so many different things in theatre and I feel like I’ve gained a lot more than a better understanding of theatre arts, I’ve gained love for theatre arts.” Mikhail Prescod;
- I have built more self-confidence, learnt more about theatre, even about my own country, and I have met some of the best people” Regina Griffith;
- I have developed a stronger sense of confidence, gained many new friends, built my understanding and knowledge about technical and practical theatre.” Shane Bourne;
- In theatre arts, I feel so brilliant. It is so fun to learn everything in the subject.” Ronaldo Atherley.
These responses truly made me overwhelmed with emotion when I read them because it made me feel indeed that the work was done and the objectives – explicit and implicit – were met.
It is clear that I have drunk the Theatre Kool-Aid. I am giddy from its magic and its imaginative prowess and promise. I am a fervent believer in the transformative benefits, the enlightening insights, the self-exploration and discovery it provides. It has an infectious energy that I want to pass on to potential followers. Beyond passionate about it, to me theatre is life; in the inimitable words of the bard, “all the world’s a stage” and we are mere players. Let the players play and in so doing we ‘turn the whole world upside down’.