When my oldest daughter was 9, she asked Santa to bring her confidence for Christmas. Along with a polaroid camera (which she did get) and a dog (which she did not get), my sweet girl actually listed it out with two underlines to be sure it’s importance was not missed.
Unsure exactly how to deliver this gift, Santa had to get creative. After some discussion and thought, the idea of confidence through theater kept coming up. My husband and I had both been involved in the performing arts in high school (we actually met in the spring musical) and felt strongly that not only could it elicit confidence, but also help her meet some new friends who may also be in a similar boat.
I hope my daughter’s story about finding herself through theater is helpful in perhaps seeing the vital importance of arts education for children. Read on for more about her growth on and off the stage, I hope her story can help other kids find the power within themselves through performance.
A few quick Google searches for local children’s theater and one kept showing up: East Valley Children’s Theater. Hearing positive things from others in the community already, we were impressed by the wide variety of options offered. From musical theater to improv, the selection made it easy to find a class day and times that worked with our busy schedule.
But most importantly to this story, did Santa deliver? Yes! She instantly made the connection between the certificate Santa had wrapped under the tree and the request for some confidence.
A few weeks after the holidays she excitedly (and nervously) walked into her first class. The lobby was buzzing with energy – kids coming and going, some singing, all smiling. We were in the right place. One class in and she was hooked.
Our child, who normally is a little insecure in new settings, thrived in this environment. As expected, she found so much common ground with the other kids in class. And as we hoped, her inner light shined when she was on stage.
Outside of just the confidence boost, there were some other unexpected benefits by way of lessons learned through this experience as well. She got to navigate handling disappointment with grace (not getting a part that she wanted), balancing this new activity with school work (time management and prioritization), and independence (to learn/practice lines on her own).
In some ways, I think those takeaways were even more impactful to her confidence than even the classes themselves.
Sadly, the spring production she had planned to be a part of was cancelled due to COVID-19 otherwise, we would have continued to encourage her participation in all things theater for as long as she was interested. Now that classes have ramped up again, she’s back on stage.
Thinking back on things now, I really believe the confidence was always within her. EVCT just helped her realize that for herself. The magic of the theater!