No Square Theatre needs you: Why you should invest in community theatre

Story and photos by LAURA BUCKLE

All the world may be a stage, but local theatre is a tough way to make a buck.

Raising the curtain can be much more of a challenge than you could have imagined. 

Putting on a show can be fueled by great, infectious enthusiasm, but creating an organization to sustain a series of shows and build a place in the community takes much more sustained effort.

No Square Theatre’s dynamic and exciting calendar of shows and events is planned meticulously with the community audience in mind – despite often not having the budget.

No Square relies heavily on community support, and this year’s arrival of the membership scheme has been successful, but they need more members to sustain the quality and frequency for which they have become renowned.

But why? Why should you invest in local community theatre? 

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Actors become like family

Ok, I’ll admit, as a child born and raised in theatre I am a little biased, but as a researcher, I took it upon myself to explore just what the benefits are even to the most “un-thespian” of people.

“Theatre is one of the higher cultural activities that mark us as imaginative, creative and truly human,” says Dr. Glenn D Wilson, Chapman University.

Attending a performance of your favorite play can promote a connection with and understanding of humanity in a bigger sense, he says. Wilson explains that the inclusion of human conflict in many plays helps people relate to each other while providing subtle guidance in our own personal relationships. 

Watching a play also allows the audience to access emotions they often don’t in the daily course of their lives. “Whether you see a tragedy or a musical, there’s likely an element of the storyline that extends beyond your personal life experiences,” Wilson adds.

This notion was further proven when the University of Arkansas Department of Education conducted a study on the effects of live performances on students. Emotional benefits that surfaced included an increased ability to comprehend and empathize with other people’s feelings and reactions. Those results weren’t as apparent with the control group that read the play or watched a movie adaptation.

The Human Element

One of the key attributes that separate’s theatre from movies and books is liveliness. Have you seen plays that were adapted for film? According to the Guardian UK, movies often show the same performance, but watching it isn’t the same experience as in the theatre.

There’s a bond that forms between the performers and the viewer, not to mention the connection that bonds the members of the audience. The Guardian article explains how there are brief magical moments that can only happen when spectators and performers share a physical space.

Local Support

By attending local theatre, you’re supporting the community, especially if there are residents performing. The community support I received from doing Annie (after a 20 year break from MT) helped me so much with my nerves and confidence. 

There are benefits for you as well, such as the fact that community theatre shows are often much less expensive than other performances. Additionally, the plays and musicals are typically held in smaller venues, so the action is easy to see and hear. 

Its soooooo good for children

I know I have a theatre child, Lula – but I also have a theatre spectator, Jesse (who would rather poke himself in the eye than perform on a stage) and trust me when I say the performing arts has benefitted them both. It teaches children how to think creatively through imagination. Creative thinking skills are critical in the world of business leaders, where the ability to create solutions to problems is a necessary and valued asset.

Robert A Iger, Chairman and CEO of the Walt Disney Company, has said that the heart and soul of a company is creativity and innovation. “Without creativity, there is nothing that makes an organization unique. Creative skills are one of the most important skills needed to be successful in any industry.”

Through theatre, audiences are immersed in stories about characters from every background imaginable. Live shows teach children how to appreciate people of all kinds and how to respect other points of view. Production brings a story with a unique viewpoint, characters from historic time periods give viewers a chance to learn about events and people from the past. 

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Rehearsals are fun

Not only is it important to learn about different kinds of people and aspects of life, but these shows also give a glimpse into other people’s lives. Theatre allows you to step into someone else’s shoes and see life from their point of view. This teaches young people lessons of empathy and cultural relativity.

Theatre exposes young people to new vocabulary and ways of communicating. Through the arts of dance, acting, and music, children learn how to communicate in a variety of unique ways.

Children need imagination to grow, create, think, and play. Theatre is the single most valuable place where kids can explore the endless possibilities of their imaginations and what they can do.

Without theatre, children not only miss out on an amazing artistic experience, but they lose the chance to experience an endless amount of learning opportunities. With exposure that not only raises school performance, but also encourages creativity, culture, communication, patience, morals, and imagination, an afternoon at the theatre is something that cannot be overlooked.

So hopefully by now I will have convinced you that becoming a member and supporting No Square Theatre will benefit everyone for generations. Check out their website at www.nosquare.org and click on “become a member” – this will give you various membership options.

While you are there now is the opportunity to purchase tickets to see “A Little Night Music” which opens May 11 and runs on the weekends until May 20– and also check out the summer camps available for your young people. 

No Square Theatre has been monumental in our family’s adjustment to moving over here. They are a family, we are a family – a family that just wants to grow and grow.

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