At YouTheatre, we wholeheartedly believe in the power of drama to create positive change in the lives of our students! A wide variety of research backs up that belief; studies conducted worldwide have consistently shown that theatre education promotes and fosters' whole person' growth which can be seen on and off the stage.
Drama classes help kids build social and interpersonal skills and improve their sense of self and self-esteem. Being onstage, exploring creativity, and performing original material can combat self-doubt and leave students with greater confidence in their abilities and potential. A three-year study conducted in England showed that theatre and drama classes encouraged "children to engage with a positive view of themselves and their competency," and offered "a democratic learning style allowing children to interpret their own voices as being important, authentic, and acknowledged" (Spicer).
Improves Academic Performance
Several studies have analyzed drama education's effect on various aspects of intellectual development. Ann Podlozny found in one study that acting and role-playing sparked a "demonstrable increase" in reading comprehension compared to a control group that engaged in ordinary reading. Another study showed that drama and theatre education strongly correlated with increased vocabulary and written story recollection. Other research has demonstrated better math skills, increased enrollment in higher education, and a narrowed achievement gap between people of varying socioeconomic statuses.
Aids Physical Development & Motor Skills
Theatre is a team sport! Nearly every class we offer at Egyptian YouTheatre involves a movement component, whether learning how to operate a puppet, building musical theatre dance skills, or exploring all the different ways a character might walk and hold themselves. While tailored explicitly for the dramatic arts, this movement training also helps kids find confidence, control, and balance in their bodies. Each movement style that YouTheatre students learn develops fine and gross motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and physical confidence (Spicer).
Fosters Compassion and Understanding
Much of theatre involves considering what people different from you may think or feel, whether you are onstage or in the audience. This imagining of other people's inner life is known in psychology as the "theory of mind," defined as "the ability to understand that other people's thoughts, feelings, and moods may differ from your own and examine the reason behind them." "Theory of mind" is vital to fostering a sense of compassion for others, as compassion requires us to think beyond our thoughts and feelings. Students who study theatre have been shown to have a greater aptitude for "theory of mind," allowing them to see and care for the people around them more effectively (Goldstein, et al.).
Improves Mental Health and Self-Efficacy Skills
Theatre and drama education have a wide range of positive effects on mental health, including reduced stress, anxiety, depression, and a generally improved sense of well-being. It also inspires positivity and increases civic engagement. Much of this involves creating an environment that nurtures self-expression, which can increase student's abilities to communicate their feelings and needs (Harland, et al.). This ability often coincides with children's sense of independence, willingness to advocate for themselves, and a "willingness to be patient and persevere and feelings of control over self and destiny" (Catterall).
Catterall, James S. (2007). “Enhancing peer conflict resolution skills through drama: an experimental study, Research in Drama Education.” The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, 12:2, 163-178, DOI: 10.1080/13569780701321013.
Goldstein, T. R., Tamil, M., & Winner, E. (2013). “Expressive suppression and acting classes.” Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 7(2), 191.
Harland, J., Kinder, K., Lord, P., Scott, A., Schaben, I., Haynes, J., …& Paola, R., (2000). “Arts education in secondary schools : Effects and effectiveness.” Slough: NFER, 566.
Podlozny, Ann. (2000) Strengthening verbal skills through use of classroom drama: A clear link.” Journal of Aesthetic Education, 34(¾), 239-275. 61(5):1617-27.
Spicer, Neve. “21 Evidence-Based Benefits of Drama and Theatre Education.” We the Parents. July 23, 2021.
Spicer, Neve. “What Can Arts Education Do For the Young? Let Us Count The Ways.” American Theatre. September 15, 2020.
Turner, H., Mayall, B., Dickinson, R., Clark, A., Hood, S., Wiggins, M., & Samuels, J. (2004). “Children engaging with drama: An evaluation of the National Theatre’s drama work in primary schools 2002-2004.”