January is, of course, the month of New Year’s resolutions. It’s an opportunity to be healthier, take up new hobbies, and improve on ourselves. However, according to U.S. News, approximately 80% of resolutions fail by the second week of February, and we become despondent when we realise we are no fitter, richer or more multi-lingual than we were a month ago.
Does this mean we need to try harder, or just that we’re setting ourselves the wrong goals? Most people’s New Year’s resolutions focus on abstaining from and limiting certain indulgences. According to last year’s ComRes poll, exercising more (38%), losing weight (33%) and eating more healthily (32%) were the three most popular resolutions in the UK. Whilst these are good and legitimate goals, placing such emphasis on eradicating things from our daily lives doesn’t create a particularly appealing prospect, and creates a higher chance of failure.
Instead, we should consider what we can add to our lives – something that is fun, fulfilling and helps improve not only our physical but mental well-being. Being involved in the performing arts, whether professionally or as a hobby, has endless benefits. It can develop confidence, public speaking and networking skills, all of which can improve your work performance, in turn adding to your overall contentment. The emphasis on teamwork and communication also makes it an easy way to meet new people in a relaxed and supportive environment.
It can also be a delightful dip into nostalgia. Whether you took ballet classes for years, or just loved your role as Sheep Two in the school nativity, re-visiting a passion for performance can help you to be more creative, proactive or just fall back in love with an old hobby. Or you may even be seeking to kickstart your career as a professional actor. Owing to the increase in flexible and part-time working, it is easier than ever to monopolise on your time and pursue a passion for performing alongside your “real” job. The opportunities for personal, mental and physical development offered by the performing arts make it a great goal to set yourself for the New Year. Fortunately, there is an abundance of ways to get involved in the performing arts, at beginners and intermediate levels.
Stage and the City, which was set up by Anna Fiorentini in 2014, hosts a variety of performing arts courses aimed to fit around the busy schedules of working adults. Anna realised that working professionals were suffering from unhealthy levels of stress, confirmed by a government survey which states that over half a million people suffered from work-related stress, anxiety and depression in 2016/17. From her 15 years’ experience running The Anna Fiorentini Theatre & Film School, which delivers professional theatre training to children from disadvantaged backgrounds, she noticed the benefits the performing arts can have on people’s health and well-being, and so decided to extend her school to adults.
The school offers courses ranging from Acting for Beginners, to Musical Theatre, to City Singers, all of which are taught by industry professionals and focus on developing a variety of skills. Current student Oscar Kugblenu says, “my job requires me to be available 24/7. Since taking the course, I have noticed changes in how much more at ease I am when new meeting people.” So, as we re-frame New Year’s resolutions as a way of incorporating more healthy, self-benefiting indulgences into our lives, consider signing up to an acting, dance or singing classes this year, and (re-)discovering your inner performer.
– Zoe Sadler