As a Trustee of the Fiorentini Foundation, I am incredibly proud of the work that is undertaken in the school helping the children develop their characters. I often hear that the work undertaken by the teachers and the skills learnt in the acting singing and dancing classes help develop self-confidence in the students.
As a trainee counsellor, I would venture that so much more than this is achieved. In an age of instant communication and virtual connectedness, I feel that we are less connected than ever. Via social media, we are able to achieve so much but I question its ability to allow for true human connection and development as individuals.
As the young seek to develop a sense of themselves, the virtual world gives them a platform to build this in a way that they can fully control and is subjective in its delivery. How often do we see the perfect world of the internet that is portrayed? My life is great and full of sun, which can give a false sense of self and status in the world. What is lacking is the emotional content and understanding that is required to develop a fully rounded person that the objectivity of the real world provides.
It is only when the needs of the subjective and the objective world of an individual are met that true development occurs. That need for a true face to face connection and emotional interplay is where the character is developed. This is where Theatre schools and the arts such as the Fiorentini theatre and film school comes to the fore.
Whilst traditional schools are superb at education and helping children develop skills to face the world of work, it is the theatre and film schools that provide the arena for the full development of character and personality. A world that forces real-world contact with themselves, others and the emotional world. A place of safety where they can explore the reality of being human and what that means. Unlike the virtual world, the real-world environment of the theatre school offers no falsities or places to hide from who they are but rather a safe, contained environment in which to test and expand their boundaries and emotions in relation to themselves and others as they become the adult they want to be.
To say theatre skills build confidence whilst true gives only one part of what it achieves. It also helps the young develop the mental and emotional strength to connect in the real world with others emotionally and empathically allowing them to form real-world relationships and in so doing combines the subjectivity of self and the objectivity of the wider world into the melting pot required to help them develop their personalities and characters to become fully rounded human beings.