Lessons I Learned From Taking A Theatre Class

I needed to satisfy a fine arts general education requirement. When I was discussing possible options with my academic advisor, she suggested an experiencing theatre class. At first, I looked at her like she was crazy. Yes, while I had eleven years of dance under my belt and had been on stage in many recitals to prove it, I was no actor. I mean, I had a total of two lines in a production of the Nutcracker, but that did not mean I thought theatre would be fun. She assured me that there would be no acting involved: Instead, I would learn all about what went into the behind-the-scenes aspects of a production. So, with that, my experience with a theatre class began. 

I actually found myself really enjoying the class as the semester went on. We had to see both a play and a musical put on right on campus, and it was nice to have something to do on a Friday evening when I’d otherwise be studying at the Starbucks close to my dorm and then retreating to my dorm room to catch up on episodes of The Bachelor (and yes, I know: I’m super lame and never went out). 

I had watched school plays all of the time back at home growing up: Some family friends had kids that got into acting, and supporting them was always fun for me. There was just something about sitting in a dark room and only having to focus on a piece of art live in front of me helps me forget about all of the stress and anxiety that always seemed to be swirling around in my brain. This semester proved no different, so here are some lessons I learned from my experiences this semester:


-Group Work Is Important (Even Though It Can Be A Total Pain)


There is literally nothing more that I dread than group projects. I seriously want to bang my head against my desk when a teacher even mentions such a concept because although I have had great experience working in groups, there were also times in which I was treated like a doormat and ended up having to do all of the work. And, to top it off, my anxiety topped with my perfectionist nature means I will literally make myself sick if I end up procrastinating. So, being paired up with people who decide to wait until the literal last minute to work on a project (as well as expect me to drop all of my other responsibilities to help them) really just drives me crazy. However, it’s important to learn how to collaborate and be respectful in such situations, and it helped me learn a little bit more about my classmates, which always makes going to class more interesting. 


-It’s Okay To Have Different Ideas

I think one of my favorite parts of class was when we would talk about some of the plays we saw and also read. It was so cool to me to hear all of the thoughts and opinions of my peers (one of them was a history major, for example, and he always seemed to bring a historical perspective that none of us had thought of before that made me walk away feeling like I actually learned more than about things like different types of lighting). However, with a group of people all stemming from different backgrounds, it was important to keep an open-mind. I get super uncomfortable speaking in class sometimes (again, anxiety really sucks!), so on the chance that I would, it sucked that someone refuted the opinion I had expressed. However, that’s just how life is: Not everyone is going to agree with you, and that shouldn’t be a big deal. 


-Sometimes Laughter Really Is The Best Medicine

I was having a crappy week. I was finding a tough time motivating myself, and for some reason, I found myself in a bad mood at the start of almost every day. So, even though all I wanted to do was curl up in bed and listen to sad music, I had to go see a play for class. It actually helped me so much, because by the end, my cheeks felt hot and my stomach hurt a bit from laughing so hard. It put a smile on my face, which is exactly what I needed. However, just like music or writing or movies, theatre can evoke all sorts of emotions within you. The trick is, you just have to let it. 


-It’s Okay To Live In Fantasyland Every Once In A While

Finals Siora Photography on Unsplash

One of the things that has always made me such a booknerd is the ability to immerse myself in different worlds and follow the lives of characters that are so different from my own. And, even though this means what I’m reading (or in the case of theatre, what I’m watching) isn’t realistic to my experiences at all, that’s okay. We all need an escape from the harshness of reality. So, even though it’s highly unlikely that three guys are going to profess their undying love for me at the same time (as is the case in An American in Paris), it’s nice to pretend it can be real every once in a while. 


-Art Connects

Laura Sheaffer running Laura Sheaffer

I think a part of me has always believed this. From my time spent during my dance days in the green room between dances, laughing over a stupid card game I was playing with other dancers, to the times I spent writing stories alone in my room only to discuss edits later that same week with my teacher, art truly is a collaborative effort. Like many things in life, you may be able to pull it off by yourself, but sharing what you’ve created is a true testament of bravery. 

So, with all things considered, I’m super glad I took the class. And although we did have to get in front of the room and act once, I’ve come to realize that sometimes you need to break out of your comfort zone to learn a thing or two. And that’s about all you can ask out of a college class.