Experiencing live theatre can encourage students to read more, think critically and creatively, and express themselves. It can also open a new world to students who haven’t yet experienced live theatre.
These are exactly the reasons why many theatres, especially children’s theatres, love hosting field trips and educational opportunities for students of all ages. Many theatres provide online study guides filled with activities that give insights into the playwright or author, the characters of the play, even the time period or setting, as well as the important roles the actors and designers play in the performance.
Some theatres offer pre- and post-performance activities or lectures that give students a behind-the-scenes look at the stage. A teaching artist may even be able to come to the classroom to help students dive deeper into the story or learn more about the process of putting on a play, from how to choose the appropriate costumes and sets, to tips on how an actor brings a story to life.
Before leaving for your trip, remember to explain to students that live theatre, is just that, live. Anything can happen and it is important to be respectful of the actors on the stage and not distract them. Review the expectations for being a good audience member, especially with the little ones. That means:
- Take your seat when the lights dim.
- No putting your feet on the chairs, or kicking the seat in front of you.
- No talking, or even whispering, during the performance.
- No getting out of your seat, unless it is to use the restroom or for an emergency.
- No food allowed in the theatre, so be sure to have snacks before the trip.
- Laugh when something is funny – the actors love to know you are enjoying the show.
- Applaud when the show is over, you might even want to stand up, to show the actors they did a good job.
Check your local or regional theatre’s website to learn about the season’s performances and the opportunities they offer for your young thespians.