“With all this social media – Facebook, Twitter, texting – people in my generation are becoming increasingly disconnected with one another and with arts in general, and I think that’s sad when my friends can’t even hold a conversation with me face to face, and would much rather text it to me or Facebook message me about it. But to get a bunch of teens to sit down and watch a show, or be in a show, and empathize with one another, I think it’s one of the most important things I can do as I continue.”
-Sean Chang, I AM THEATRE
It’s that time of year again: binders have been purchased, pencils have been sharpened, the slightly exhilarating, slightly nerve-wrecking autumn chill is in the air and a new school year is about to begin. Many of us have distinct memories of what it was to be in high school; and fortunately many of us also experienced a moment when we first connected with our school’s drama troupe, musical cast, or stage crew, gently placing us in an ever-expanding family of theatre-enthusiasts-for-life.
Watching Sean Chang ruminate on his first encounter with theatre in high school as a novel form of self expression sent me on a trip down memory lane. Juxtaposed with his thoughtful comment on how, in this increasingly media ladened world, he is saddened to see his peers prefer interfacing with technology rather than people, my heart was stirred towards everyone who makes it their personal passion to advocate for arts education. Theatre provides the opportunity for a young person to experience the thrills and challenges of building community while simultaneously uncovering their unique identity as an individual. I agree with Chang—it ultimately requires the participant to learn to trust their own capacity for experiencing and communicating empathy. And I believe that theatre is living, breathing empathy—a strong argument in support of arts education and in my opinion, essential to any successful education.
Is social media a form of self expression and does it impact the creation of identity, or conformity?
When and where were you first embraced by a theatrical community?
How can we, as theatre artists, give social media permission to enhance a theatre experience?
Let us know, or better yet, don’t just tell, show.