What does our Christmas Show really mean for our students?
Every year, the Christmas Show is an exciting moment for the children.
As we often emphasise, art education is an important cornerstone within the BBSchool curriculum. Indeed, we believe that developing creative sensibilities (in the broadest sense of the word), will be a hallmark in the adults and thinkers of tomorrow. Each of us has different propensities and aptitudes, and as educators it is our task to offer different stimuli to young people. However we don’t want to “twist their arm”, so that they follow what inspires them the most.
Several aspects are involved in the successful realisation of a show: writing a script, costume design (making costumes that emphasise the characteristics of the characters), technical (lighting, sound, projections, etc.), directorial (ensemble of all the elements that make up a show) and performance (music, dance, acting).
The performative aspect may be considered the most difficult part to achieve in that it makes use of the body and soul of the performer. Performing in front of a packed audience exposes you to judgement, and you have to be prepared for it, emotionally even more than technically. The minutes of applause and positive feedback are therefore just the end result of a great job that each of us carries out with passion and dedication: it all starts with our students!
Art channels our emotions and so teaches us
If it is true and increasingly proven that we learn, remember and process information especially if it is conveyed by emotions, it is also true that the arts can help us learn with an intensity and ease uncommon to many other fields of knowledge. Think of the emotions aroused by a piece of music, a film, a poem that touches precisely that perhaps sore spot. In singing, acting and dancing, children and young people of all ages encounter states of mind. They may recognise or distance themselves, they may be intrigued or frightened by them. In any case they are wholly involved in the learning moment. Text, language and its syntax, notes, rhythms with logical-mathematical sequences, positions in space and the sense of measure – everything is memorised and made their own without almost realising it.
Theatre as a place of learning
For children the classroom is a safe and familiar learning environment. When they step out of the classroom, both as a physical and social space, our youngsters come up against a very stimulating reality that challenges them on a multidisciplinary level. In the theatre we learn how to move behind the scenes, to have the right timing of what is happening on stage, to use non-verbal communication and to solve problems due to unexpected events, which are all elements that make up “life skills”. Decision making, problem solving, empathy, and effective communication are just some of the social, cognitive and personal skills that enable us to cope positively with the demands and challenges of everyday life.
From “Art and learning: an in-depth study of art’s educational potential” (F. Audino):
“Theatre meets education in the moment in which individual growth is integrated into a collective approach. It could be said that the essence of theatre is the creation of a space in which one can encounter the other (Grotowski, 1970). The development of capacities such as imagination, improvisation, and creativity facilitate the discovery and the management of one’s internal world. In theatre workshops, the physical, creative, and group aspects come together. Additionally, when, in a theatrical context, we are placed in situations which are qualitatively different from those we encounter on a daily basis, our life experiences are expanded; our theatrical experiences can change our definitions of ourselves, of others, and of the world in general (Oliva, 2015).”
Improvisation is an art, but art cannot be improvised. Our “backstage” is not only the literal backstage space in a theatre but also, and most importantly, the time, planning and preparation, to lead us to where we want to go. This work changes us from within, by being fully immersed in the artistic path: only when this change has happened can we share the artistic outcome with the audience.
As already said, in art learning takes place from sensations, from ‘feeling’. From Audino again: “Artistic workshops require a level of physical engagement that sets them apart from other kinds of workshops. In these workshops, participants use all of their senses, becoming fully involved. Movement and the use of the senses is instrumental to understanding and applying concepts.” Rudolf Arnheim in his work Art and Visual Perception writes that: «The mental life of children is intimately bound up with their sensory experience. To the young mind, things are what they look like, sound like, move like, or smell like» (Arnheim, 2005, p. 165).”
Art thus comes to enhance the effectiveness of teaching, offering alternative channels for learning (the sensory ones, in fact) while giving both the audience and the performers unforgettable emotions.