My name is Wesley O’Duinn. I’ve been a drama teacher now for just over a year. I trained at the prestigious Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin Ireland, which has produced actors such as Colin Farrell and Aiden Turner. I now teach young learners at the school eager for exploration in dramatic arts.
I have written and directed plays and short films in Ireland as well as performed on stages and on screen across Europe, Australia and New Zealand. I was also a radio host on a major station in Ireland and in New Zealand.
This year I am the director of the Chester International Summer Camp´s graduation play, which will be held in the Abanca Auditorium in Santiago de Compostela’s historical quarter on the 29th and 30th of July.
So what’s it all about? Why should any young learner consider committing their time to studying drama? How will it benefit their lives?
Well, let me try to answer that question for you now.
Dramatic Arts education provides students with a unique platform for stimulating creativity in problem solving. It can challenge student’s perceptions about their world and about themselves. Dramatic exploration can provide students with an outlet for emotions, thoughts, and dreams that they might not otherwise have means to express. A student can, if only for a few moments, become another, explore a new role, try out and experiment with various personal choices and solutions to very real problems-problems from their own life, or problems faced by characters in literature or historical figures. This can happen in a safe atmosphere, where actions and consequences can be examined, discussed, and in a very real sense experienced without the dangers and pitfalls that such experimentation would obviously lead to in the «real» world. This is perhaps the most important reason for Dramatic Arts in schools.
Still, there is far more that Drama can do. At the center of all Drama is communication. Like all the arts, Drama allows students to communicate with and understand others in new ways. Perhaps more than any other art form, Drama also provides training in the very practical aspects of communication so necessary in today’s increasingly information-centered world. Students who have participated in Dramatic activities are less likely to have difficulty speaking in public, will be more persuasive in their communications, both written and oral, will be better able to put themselves into others’ shoes and relate to them, and will have a more positive, confident self image.
Participation in Dramatic activity requires self-control and discipline that will serve the student well in all aspects of life. Students in Drama will learn to work together, to cooperate, to find the best way for each member of a group to contribute, and to listen to and accept the viewpoints and contributions of others. no art form is more truly collaborative. Drama is an important tool for preparing students to live and work in a world that is increasingly team-orientated rather than hierarchical.
In addition to its intrinsic educational value, Drama can reinforce the rest of the school curriculum. Since communication and empathy are central to Drama, a student who has explored like in the Drama classroom will be better able to understand ideas in History and Current Events. The link between Dramatic Arts and subjects such as English, History, Social Studies, and related areas is obvious. The study of literature would be impossible without Drama. There are important periods of our collective literary history in which virtually all of the surviving literature is dramatic. More importantly, Drama can be used to promote active learning in any subject-to give students a kinaesthetic and empathic understanding as well as an intellectual understanding of a topic.
Studies have shown again and again that this approach yields greater depth of understanding and a marked improvement in retention. I always strive to link my Drama lessons to topics and themes my students are studying in other subjects, or to important social questions.
In this way Drama accomplishes several goals at once-enriching students’ school experience through Art as well as reinforcing traditional academics.
In a word, Drama is necessary.