I really enjoyed seeing Shakopee High School Drama Club’s production of “Mamma Mia!” the opening weekend. I’m old enough to remember when ABBA’s music, which is the basis of the musical, was broadcast regularly on the radio. Knowing the songs so well made the musical even more enjoyable and strengthened my appreciation for the pit orchestra and the singers.
Our family attends musicals every fall and we are always impressed with the phenomenal talent in our school, from lead roles to ensemble, musicians and set designers. The high caliber of song, dance and theater catches our attention every year from the opening number. Judging by the packed house on the evening of our participation, the thunderous applause and standing ovation the actors received, everyone seemed equally enthralled by the experience.
What came to my mind while watching the musical and singing was how much fun everyone on stage seemed to have. The actors were in their element, and it showed. It also did me good to see how many people were able to show their talent. At certain points in the musical there were around 50 actors on stage.
It’s nice to see so many students in the spotlight. In total, around 100 students were involved on stage and behind the scenes. This is great because no doubt everyone wanted their friends, relatives and loved ones to attend, which is probably why the tickets were in high demand. It’s also great because it allows so many students to get involved in something that makes them happy.
The cast and crew are known to support each other and have a lot of fun together. They certainly spend a lot of time together preparing and presenting the shows, but the theater club offers more than great plays and musicals. It offers the possibility for students to get involved in a group to which they feel they belong. And that feeling of acceptance and inclusion is what’s important.
Many health and wellness organizations talk about the value of belonging. For example, a Mayo Clinic article says, âWe cannot separate the importance of a sense of belonging from our physical and mental health. The social bonds that come with a sense of belonging are a protective factor that helps manage stress. When we feel that we have support and that we are not alone, we often cope better with difficult times in our lives. “
Finding an activity that students can connect with that provides a sense of belonging has a positive impact and can even be life changing. For some, it is about playing sports. For others, it may be speaking, robotics, music, or bowling. And for others, it’s theater.
Every drama student I’ve spoken to over the years has told me the same thing: They love being a part of the drama club. Whether they know it or not, their involvement allows them to develop skills that will help them in life and even help them become better people.
“Drama is important to students because it puts students’ other basic educational classes into practice and improves self-esteem, motivation and achievement,” a Nebraska high school theater director wrote on a website. âCommunication and collaboration skills are greatly enhanced by involvement in theater, whether the student is involved in acting or in technical areas. “
Other benefits include learning to work as a team, building the self-confidence to speak in public, and understanding how to deal with rejection for those who don’t get the roles they auditioned for. , but participate in another role. Additionally, students learn the importance of constructive feedback, the rewards of taking risks with their roles, and the ability to express emotions.
Theater is also recognized for helping students appreciate different cultures and learn to empathize by exploring emotional and even distressing stories. These are all skills needed in a modern workforce.
“Music, drama, speech and debate activities are ideal for developing what have been called the four Cs skills of the 21st century – critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity,” according to the National Federation of State High School Associations.
I suspect most students don’t think about these reasons when they join the drama club, and there is no reason to. Having fun is reason enough.
Brett Martin is a columnist who has lived in Shakopee for over 15 years.