The following is the opinion Matt Pugliese, Executive Director at Oddfellows Playhouse
There are many skills and benefits that children receive from
involvement at Oddfellows Playhouse and in theater arts programs.
Creativity and imagination are some of the first benefits people list
when talking about the value of a theater arts education and
Earlier this month I had the opportunity to appear on WNPR’s Where We Live
with John Dankosky to discuss the topic of creativity. The discussion
between panelists Constanza Gowen-Segovia (CO LAB), Louise Loomis, Ed.D
(Thinkwell Center) and the Watkinson School Creative Arts Program
students has really stuck with me. (Listen here) It was a broad, wide ranging discussion and we only began to touch the subject of creativity.
I have been thinking a great deal about creativity in the wake of our
conversation, and how to re-frame what it is that we do at Oddfellows
Playhouse Youth Theater. In particular, I’ve been considering the way
society values creativity. It is very much in the forefront of our
current economic environment to talk about the new economy, and the
importance of innovation. "Innovate" is simply another way of saying
"create". So, if we are going to prepare our young people to be
innovative, we need to build their creativity.
Creativity is something that you need to practice. As with any
skill, one needs to work to develop and refine creativity. That is one
of the benefits of continued involvement at Oddfellows Playhouse and in
theater. It is an opportunity for a young person to have their
creativity exercised. Just as students go to sports and music
practices, creativity and imagination need to be exercised and pushed to
All of the “creating” that goes on in each rehearsal comes with
other benefits as well. Students become quick thinkers, they improvise
and they learn to work through scenarios in advance and feel prepared
when something unexpected happens. This helps them learn to handle the
anxiety that comes along with so many aspects of life—such as a school
project, a business presentation, speaking in front of colleagues or
sharing an original idea.
Oddfellows’ spring session begins the week of April 1, and is full
of opportunities for children ages 3-18 to exercise their creativity.
The youngest students
in Pre-K, Kindergarten and Grade 1 have classes that are designed to
get them used to using their creativity and sharing it with their
peers. Think of it like riding a tricycle, then a bicycle with training
wheels. Students in Story Starters (grades 2-3) can create a Mini-Production based on the West African folktale of Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters.
Not only are they creating characters and story, but they are
considering a “Cinderella” tale from a different cultural point of
view. The Kids Company (grades 4-5) can explore Fundamentals of
Musical Theater and Comedy and Improv. Junior Rep (grades 6-8) can give their imaginations a serious workout with How To Deliver a Monologue and Intro to Playwrighting. Our Teen Rep (grades 9-12) also has an opportunity to discover their unique voice with Intro to Playwrighting and Intro to Directing classes. Complete class descriptions and information can be found at www.oddfellows.org . Registration is available online or by calling 860-347-6143.