This past weekend my daughter Claire and I attended the performance of one of her young voice students—a Broadway-style theatre camp show featuring kids age 5-14. It was the kind of production she and her sister Dove had done for many summers when they were growing up, and brought back many memories. It was a great evening.
The range of talent was similar to the range you’d find on a Little League team—and like a Little League team, if you were on the team, you got to play. No one sat on the bench. For some kids it was a huge accomplishment to just show up on a stage and sing and dance in the ensemble. Their courage was palpable. For others it was one of many performances they’d notched, and their delight with the spotlight was clear: this was where they belonged.
The whole range of kids, from the nervous novices to the veteran performers, shared something special– a co-created work of art. Theatre is a truly inspiring team sport.
Most of the kids who do these summer theatre camps or community theatre-type shows won’t go on to be professional actors. That’s OK– it’s not why most of them do it. They do it because it’s joyful. The shining face of every kid on that stage was proof enough that they got what they came for: a wonderful experience. Whatever they do following this production, they will do with a little more courage and confidence. More ease in their own skin.
A few of these kids will fall in love with performing after an experience like this one, and follow it into real careers that inspire more than just their families and friends. Art is important because it transforms lives. This is true at every level—for the 10-year-old singing her first solo, and the 40-year-old watching a film that illuminates her own personal narrative. Art connects us to what it means to be human. And the young man who dances across the stage in his hometown may not be able to articulate that in words, but he feels it in his bones.
Art at all levels is an expression of courage and love, an invitation to connect. Regardless of what “level” we practice it—with a hairbrush for a mic in our living room, or on a stage in front of thousands—it’s a worthy endeavor.
Here’s to all the brave and generous souls who step out of their comfort zone to attempt an act of connection and expression. And here’s to the people who support them—the parents, siblings, grandparents, friends and many mentors who make it all possible. The world is made better for your love.
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