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April 1, 2011 > California State Thespian Advocacy Competition - winning essay

California State Thespian Advocacy Competition - winning essay

Spotlight On Theater Education

By Aadil Vora
Photos By Aabid Husain

On March 15, in honor of California Youth in Theatre Day, I read my winning essay in Sacramento to 300 legislators, theater educators and student thespians. Thespians are taught to look at the world from another's perspective because this technique develops the characters we play on stage. This ability to look at the world through different eyes is essential to becoming a more compassionate member of society. Theatre has become a very important part of my life.

My essay:

For student thespians like me, the theatre is a magical place where we can dream anything and be anything. All Californians have been enriched by theater in multitudinous ways. For me, theater, a mix of the fine and performing arts, is a vehicle by which I can find my talents. It builds self-confidence, surfaces issues, keeps stories alive, fosters creativity, stimulates critical thinking, and encourages organization.

Theatre arts education builds self-confidence and strengthens identity. The performing arts uniquely provide the opportunity to explore and evoke colorful dimensions of the human condition. Performers can also express their perspectives on issues to an audience by creating layered plot and textured characters. For example, my Drama class is creating a fictional story about a circus that teaches reusing, recycling, reducing, and respecting. My class's goal is to reach out to our audience of elementary school children by inspiring them to protect our deteriorating planet.

On a personal level, theatric arts are of paramount importance for California high school curricula. The arts offer the best, and in crucial respects, the only vehicle through which I can find and share my true voice. I want and need to tell my own story, and if not my own story, the powerful stories of others. Thespians are sensitive to international issues because we can effectively look at the world from another's perspective, a skill we use to develop the characters we play on stage. This sensitivity is essential to a considerate society.

Additionally, theatre promotes and encourages innovation and right-brain thinking. In order to do improvisational acting, for example, we come up with creative and resourceful ideas as a team. In fact, this helps us with critical thinking problems in school and encourages spontaneity. In the tumultuous times today, creative solutions are needed more than ever to overcoming our challenges.

Theatre also teaches life lessons that cannot be taught on a whiteboard or from a textbook. With time-consuming rehearsals, many auditions and weekends spent putting a production together, theatre can be a very demanding activity. For example, I was recently in my school's fall production of A Christmas Carol. With my challenging academic classes in school, I learned to manage my time by studying backstage and prioritizing my activities. Thespians are taught the enduring ability to balance theater and academics.

Legislative responsibility to the arts in California is essential. Theatrical arts are at the very core of our Golden State, for they have both helped forge and shape California into the innovative, progressive, and leading state of our nation! Education without theatre is impossible to imagine because theatre supports the many lessons students learn on the odyssey from kindergarten to college. My thespian family has taught me on my quest to dream big and persevere, whatever may come. As they say, "The show must go on!"

Aadil Vora is a 16-year old student who attends Irvington High School in Fremont.
His essay won the California Thespian Advocacy Essay competition.

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