Sometimes, even as adults, the mildest choices can become overwhelming. The decision between taking the motorway or sideroads could be the difference between a good day out or a 25 minute traffic jam tormented by Radio 1. We’re faced with decisions on an almost hourly basis. Run or walk? Shower or bath? Takeaway or cook? Jacket or no jacket. Phone or text? There is no limit to how many decisions we have to make in a day. It is a cognitive and emotional skill, after all, to be able to manage this mental weight quickly and healthily in our adult lives, perhaps a skill that we didn’t think to consciously develop when we were young.
ACTS is in the fortunate position to train such decision making skills through drama and, importantly, all of the playfulness that comes with it. In the drama, acting and musical theatre classrooms young people are making choices on a constant and unassuming basis. Young people create entire worlds and characters by responding to each other’s prompts, they study scripts, analysing the lines to best understand and communicate their characters, and they make spontaneous, spur of the moment choices in interactive drama games where the players convey the passion of gladiators to what may only be passing a ball around the room. Drama classrooms are, for all intents and purposes, environments where young people’s decisions matter and it is clear that young people care about this because, crucially, they decide to turn up.
Students choose drama in school, they choose to take up extracurricular drama activities, and they choose to pursue it as a career all because they find themselves in a place where their voices, decisions, and personalities are valued. They relish in praise when their peers and parents in the audience erupt with applause and laughter, knowing well that they, along with their castmates, have earned such commendation from their hard work and their creative input.
Without the personalities and creative input from young people, drama spaces would cease to function. Rooms would just be rooms instead of canvases that change with each personality that puts its paint to it. Cinema’s would be student accommodation, theatre’s would be museums and our televisions would be a 24 hour cycle without the creative voices that transport us to other worlds.
What is so wonderful about a life in the arts is its spontaneity. Its explosiveness! Its … unpredictability. Entire scripts change on the whim of a joke, characters on the whim of a look, and young people know that. One pass can change the direction of a football game, one try can win the Rugby Worlds, and one decision can make an entire West End production.
An entire industry has been built from creative decisions and ACTS wants to foster a new generation of trend setters and artists – that’s why it was set up in the first place. Young people are fun, strange and wonderful, and here at ACTS we adore hosting a space for these experiments where creative voices from all backgrounds can come together and make whole narratives with people they might never have met and about people they should always dream they can become.